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Chicago Cook-in of June 28-30, 2002

Snot (Illinois)


I don't know if I can elaborate very well upon what Gar so eloquently wrote, but here goes - and forgive me if I repeat anything.

I suppose it was even MORE of a whirlwind for me, since I have only been exposed to the group for about 7 months. After meeting you all, it seemed like we had been buds for years. All the barriers that the computer and distance can create were gone the minute each one of you walked through our door.

Gar never mentioned how hard he worked for months at making our back "YARD" (!) so stunningly beautiful, from the hibiscus and holly bushes, to the hanging planters - in addition to the festive atmosphere that the canopy and lights created at night. And I can't leave out the second kitchen area we recently acquired, and over which Gar busted his butt cleaning and putting in order just in time for the weekend. And he still managed to turn out his delicious food on top of all that!

[Damsel - Yes, the back yard was breathtaking. There were flowers and herbs tucked away in small gardens, and lots of potted flowers and shrubs of every type and description. Gar and Crash had strung white Christmas bulbs under the edge of the canopy, an effect that was both decorative and functional. There was a string of bamboo lights along the back fence, and flaming tiki lamps, with the tags still attached, rising up out of gardens and potted shrubs. (Ariane told me that little Max, mistaking the tags for light switches, was trying to turn the lights on and off by tugging on the tags. Papa Stenni cleared that misunderstanding RIGHT up!)

Even though it was 90 degrees, the humidity was fairly low, and Gar had an industrial fan set up, creating a pleasant breeze. I'm sure we would have died on the spot if the cook-in had been held on Sunday. It was oppressively hot and humid. The cooking gods were defniitely smiling down on us! We really didn't have many bugs, either. Just a few lightning bugs, with their glowing, green butts. It was fun, watching them flittering about!

And, thank you Gar, for all your hard work on the addition to your apartment. It was so nice, being your house guests. You're both so gracious and generous with your home and hospitality. Thank you both, so much! And a special thanks to Abi, for giving up her bedroom for the weekend, so we'd have a place to sleep!]

And the food - every single last bite of it - was outstanding, and all made with love; the drinks - every single last drop, thank you, Hag! - were great and did what they were intended to do; and the company was stellar. We really would do it again in a heartbeat.

And yes, some may call me foolish (or worse) but I did take a huge chance and invited my boss to the cookin. Suffice it to say, it turned out to be a bonding experience for the both of us!!

Just to reinforce the thanks - to Damsel and Crash for the beautiful jewelry Crash had fashioned for me, and Damsel - especially - for the fabulous work on the web site; the beautiful red lacquer jewelry box from Japan, gracious gift of Hag and Stenni; and the awesome cookbooks that are already adorning our coffee table that Gar previously drooled about!! And just plain ol' thanks from the heart for coming, making yourselves at home, and making the Cookin the enormous success that it was.

It was wonderful beyond words, it was way too short, and I have almost lost the entire 5 lbs I gained! I hope we make it an annual thing...

Oh yea, and we are ALMOST finished with the dishes!!

[Damsel - Is that lasagne pan STILL soaking?]

Snot (the Weeble)

Basil Cheesecake

Basil Cheesecake

Recipe By: W.H. "Billy" Stoneman
Serving Size: 12
Categories: appetizers cheesecakes

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese -- grated

2 1/2 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove
16 ounces ricotta cheese -- at room temperature
4 8-oz. packages cream cheese -- at room temperature
8 ounces parmesan cheese -- grated
5 eggs -- at room temperature
1/2 cup pine nuts -- lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter bottom and sides of 10" spring form pan. Mix bread crumbs and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle mixture into pan, turning to coat completely.

Mix basil leaves, parsley, oil, salt and garlic in food processor until smooth paste forms, about 2 minutes, scraping sides occasionally. Put ricotta cheese, cream cheese and Parmesan in a mixer bowl and mix until smooth about 2 minutes. Mix in the eggs.

Remove about 1/3 of this mixture to a small bowl. Into the original 2/3 cheese mixture, fold in the basil mixture until well blended. Pour the basil mixture into the prepared pan and carefully spread an even layer of the cheese mixture on top. Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Set pan on a baking sheet. Bake 1 1/2 hours. Turn oven off and cool cheesecake about 1 hour with the oven door slightly ajar. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. Serve at room temperature, or slightly warmed.

Hungarian Csuroge

Hungarian Csuroge Cookies

(pronounced "Chiddega")

3 eggs, separated
1/2 t cream of tartar
1/2 c sifted powdered sugar
1T lemon juice
3T cold water
1t vanilla
1/2 t salt
3-1/4 c sifted flour

Beat egg white with cream of tartar until stiff but not dry. In separate bowl, beat yolks. Add powdered sugar, lemon, cold water, vanilla and salt. Combine thoroughly. Add to egg whites and beat together until thick and creamy. Add flour, one cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Dough will be very stiff. Knead until smooth and satiny (very very important). Roll out on floured board until thin (the thinner the better - I use my pasta machine). Cut into strips. Twist strips. Deep fry at 350 until golden brown on each side (they cook very very fast - 10 seconds total). Drain, sift powdered sugar on top.

Little Traveller Key Lime Pie

1/3 c Nellie and Joe's ™ Key Lime Juice
1 - 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 - 8 oz container Cool Whip ™
1 - 8 inch graham craker crust, store bought or home made

Whisk together lime juice and sweetened condensed milk. Fold into whipped topping and add green food coloring if desired. Pour into graham cracker crust. I freeze my key lime pie and serve it as a frozen dessert; otherwise, chill, serve.

[Ariane - This was great, one of the dessert hits at the cook-in! I'm sure there'll be protests about the Cool Whip, but I don't argue with the end results. It was one very good pie, nice and tangy and just the thing for a hot day.]



I have to wing it with the lasagne. It's something that I have been making and adjusting for about 20 years, and my mom about 10 years before that. So I will give you generalities, and you can adjust as necessary. I always increase my filling ingredients - that seems to elicit the most "oooohs" and "aaaahs!!"

Box of non-extruded lasagne (not like Cremettes - they look rolled instead of the semi-translucent stuff you normally find)UNCOOKED!!!!!!! Trust me on this!!
about 1-1/2 to 2 lbs Italian sausage, casings removed, cooked crumbled and drained
about 2 lbs fresh ricotta
about 2-3 eggs
Fresh grated Parm and Romano
about 2 lbs sliced mozzarella
chopped Italian parsley - about 1/2 cup
chopped sweet Basil - about 1/4 cup
Italian Seasoning, salt pepper.
About 2 cups homemade seasoned tomato sauce or Barilla is really good. I think they make a lasagne sauce.

Combine the eggs, parsley, basil and grated cheeses with the ricotta - season to taste with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Add the drained, crumbled sausage to the lasagne sauce.

Grease a 9 x 13 casserole. Layer the lasagen thusly:

Noodles (UNCOOKED!!!), ricotta, sauce, cheese.

Two layers is usually what I end up with - you may get three. Over the top, I sprinkle more Romano and Parm.

Bake for at least an hour at 350°F. I bake it, then cool it, then reheat it for about 30 minutes covered in foil.

The juices from the sauce along with the heat adequately cook the noodles. The come out tender and al dente.

I think I remembered everything!!

Monkey Balls

Monkey Balls

These are balls of dough rolled in butter and then a cinnamon and sugar mixture. They are then piled atop each other. When baked each ball can be easily pulled apart. You can make the bread the night before, cover and place in the refrigerator, and bake in the oven the next morning. Wonderful.

For the Bread Dough:
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
Scant 1 Tablespoon (1 package) dry active yeast
4 cups (560 grams) bread or all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
12 Tablespoon (168 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For Dipping and Rolling:
8 Tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Butter and flour your cake, tube or bread pan(s) - do not use springform pans as the butter will leak out onto your oven floor.

To make the dough: Warm the milk and sugar to about 105 degrees F - just slightly warmer than body temperature. Place in your mixer bowl and whisk in the yeast. Let the mixture stand until the yeast is activated and creamy (about 10 minutes). Add 2 cups (280 grams) flour and the salt and beat with the paddle until you have a smooth batter. Add the eggs and blend well. Add the remaining flour and knead - when the dough gets too thick for your paddle, switch to your dough hook. Knead for two minutes.

Then slowly add the melted and cooled butter to the dough while it is kneading. It will gradually absorb the butter, though at times it may look oily and even broken. Continue kneading until the dough becomes soft and smooth, about 4 - 5 minutes on medium speed.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl that will hold twice the volume of the bread (use melted butter or a flavorless vegetable oil). Lightly oil the surface of the dough, cover the bowl with plastic, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours (depending on the warmth of the room).

While the dough is rising make the cinnamon - sugar mixture:

Blend the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.

When the dough has risen, remove from the bowl and turn out onto a surface lightly dusted with flour. To cut the balls of dough, gently punch the dough down and shape it into a rectangle. Using a knife, divide the rectangle lengthwise into four strips of dough. Stretch each strip to lengthen and thin it, then cut it into pieces the size you desire - 15 to 20 pieces per strip. Roll each piece into a ball using lightly floured hands.

Have your melted butter (placed in a small bowl) and cinnamon-sugar mixture ready. Take each piece of ball of dough and dip it in the butter to coat thoroughly, then roll it in the sugar mixture and place it in your prepared pan. Continue until all the balls have been coated and the pans have been filled. (Be sure to just lightly coat the balls of dough with the cinnamon-sugar mixture - too much and the buns will be hard.) If you are using odd-sized pans, be sure the dough balls do not fill the pan more than halfway since there needs to be plenty of room for rising. Cover the pan(s) with plastic and set aside (or else place in the refrigerator overnight) to rise until almost doubled (the dough should be at or near the top of the pan).

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for about 45 minutes (if you're not sure whether it's done, just pull a piece off the top and test it). Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then turn out the pans and allow to cool on a rack or serving plate. This is best served warm. Makes 1 to 2 loaves, depending on pan(s) used.

Adapted from "Baking with the American Harvest" by Cindy Mushet.

Mrs Boo's Crunch Cake

Crunch Cake

1/2 c butter
1/3 c sugar
6 oz chopped pecans
1/4 lb. crushed vanilla wafers (about 30 wafers)

1 c shortening
2 c sugar
4 eggs
1 c milk
1-1/2 t vanilla
2-2/3 c sifted cake flour
1-1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix topping and pat on bottom and sides of 2 greased loaf pans. Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients. Add to batter, alternating with milk and vanilla. Pourinto prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour. Let stand for a few minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack. While warm, glaze with icing.

1 c powdered sugar, enough boiling water for proper consistency, few drops yellow food coloring, few drops lemon extract.

New York Style Cheesecake

Unsalted butter for the pan
3 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese at room temp
2T Somersweet
3 large eggs at room temp
1 cup sour cream
1-1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t. lemon zest
1 t vanilla
(Somersweet Substitutions: saccharin 1 T, sugar 3/4 cup - I think the granulated SPlenda is used cup for cup with sugar - you can check on the pkg.)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter sides and bottom of 9 inch springform pan. LIne the bottom with a double thickness of wax paper. Lay two 24-inch long pieces of aluminum foil on a work surface to make an X.

Place the springform pan in the center of the foil and fold up around the sides to form an waterproof jacket.

In a laarge mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and Somersweet until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beting well after each addition. Add sour cream, lemon juice, zest and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and place in a large roasting pan. At the door of the over, pour enough hot water in the the roasting pan to surround the cheesecake with one inch of water. This is a water bath, which helps keep the cheesecake from cracking and curdling.

Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let cool for an additional hour WITHOUT opening the door. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temp. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate in the springform pan overnight.

Run a warm knife around the edges of the cheesecake before you release the springform. Transfer cake to serving dish.

Raspberry Sorbet

2-2/3 c fresh or frozen raspberries
1/3 c water
2T or more Somersweet, depending on how sweet the berries are
2T lemon juice
(Substitutions - saccharin - 1T plus 1t more or less Sugar - 1/2 or more)

Place al lthe ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Taste and add more sweetner if needed.

Place in an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions.


Frosted Chocolate Biscotti

(I use almonds too - and the ginger adds SO much depth to the flavor, without overpowering)

For the crispiest cookies, slice the dough no thicker than a half inch. The biscotti keep well and look great wrapped in tinted cellophane tied with a silk ribbon or raffia, or packed into pretty holiday bags.

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (about 8 ounces)
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
6 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker's), chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift first 5 ingredients into medium bowl. Add 3 eggs and vanilla; beat until blended. Stir in chocolate chips, nuts and crystallized ginger (dough will be firm). Turn dough out onto floured surface. Gather into ball. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into 12-inch-long log. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart. Flatten each to 2 1/2-inch-wide log. Whisk remaining egg in small bowl to blend. Brush logs with some of beaten egg.

Bake logs until golden and firm to touch, about 35 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Transfer logs to cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut logs crosswise into scant 1/2-inch-wide slices. Place slices, cut side down, on large baking sheets. Bake until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer biscotti to racks and cool completely.

Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler set over barely simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Place biscotti on rack set over baking sheet. Using spoon, drizzle melted white chocolate decoratively in zigzag pattern over biscotti. Let stand until chocolate is firm (can be prepared ahead. Store biscotti in airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 1 month).

Makes about 48.

Bon Appétit, December 1999

Lowfat Tiramisu

I have used fat free cream cheese and fat free whipped topping, and it tasted just as good. I also use the powdered egg whites, and that worked wonderfully, too. I also double the amount of the kahlua mixture - I really soak my ladyfingers good! I also serve this frozen... it looks much nicer, and it is the perfect eating temperature by the time its cut and served.

POWDERED SUGAR, 2/3 cup sifted
SUGAR, 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon
WATER, 1/4 cup
HOT WATER, 1/2 cup

Combine powdered sugar and cream cheese in a bowl; beat at high speed of a mixer until well-blended. Gently fold 1 cup whipped topping into cheese mixture.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler; place over simmering water. Beat at high speed of a mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into cheese mixture. Gently fold in remaining egg white mixture; set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup hot water, 1 tablespoon sugar, espresso, and Kahlua; stir well. Split ladyfingers in half lengthwise. Arrange 20 ladyfinger halves, cut sides up, in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Drizzle half of espresso mixture over ladyfinger halves. Spread half of cheese mixture over ladyfinger halves. Repeat procedure with the remaining ladyfinger halves, espresso mixture, and cheese mixture. Spread 1/2 cup whipped topping evenly over cheese mixture; sprinkle with cocoa. Place 1 toothpick in each corner and in center of Tiramisu to prevent plastic wrap from sticking to whipped topping; cover with plastic wrap. Chill 2 hours.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION: Calories 226 (28% from fat); protein 4.7g; fat 7g (sat 4.1g, mono 2g, poly 0.8g); carbohydrates 30g; fiber 0g; cholesterol 41mg; iron 0.1mg; sodium 199mg; calcium 49mg.

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