November 12, 2015

See Jane Cook is a free weekly Internet food newsletter written by Jane Snow and published by Mimi Vanderhaven. Sign up here to have newsletter appear every Wednesday in your email in box. Join us!

Dear Friends,

When I saw a recipe for an almost-flourless chocolate cake a couple of weeks ago, I had a brainstorm. I would try to make a pumpkin version of that rich, custard-y, slumped cake. Oh, boy. A totally new take on pumpkin.

I’m glad I did a Google search for “pumpkin custard cake” before I started. I created almost the exact cake for See Jane Cook in October 2012. Yikes. Am I becoming one of those people who repeat themselves as they get older except I do it with food, and in print? (If you notice this, send me an email. I’m serious.)

I’m equal parts terrified and gratified. I’m terrified that I totally forgot an entire cake. I’m gratified that, thanks to my poor memory, I have a terrific new (to me) recipe. In the 2012 article I described it as a cross between a cake and a soufflé “with a mousse-like texture and prominent pumpkin flavor accented with grated orange rind, vanilla and pinches of nutmeg and cinnamon.” The description jogged my memory, but to solidify it in my mind, I had to make the cake. I did, and it was delicious. I hope to heck I don’t forget it again.

In some oven-friendly cardboard mini cake pans I found at TJ Maxx I will bake little pumpkin soufflé cakes for the Countryside Conservancy’s Local Food Swap next Tuesday. This will be my first food swap. A couple of readers have been urging me to participate in the monthly events, where local food-lovers meet, mingle and trade homemade or home-produced food items. I will take four or five of the little cakes and three half-pint jars of my vanilla, quince and star anise brandy.

I would love it if some of you came to the swap, too. We can be first-timers together. Any kind of homemade item is welcome, from easy quick breads to seasoning mixes. Most of the food isn’t “gourmet.”

Take your contribution in small portions so you have several items to trade. Participation is free but you must sign up in advance. The swaps are held the third Tuesday of each month at various locations. This month’s venue is Summit Artspace in downtown Akron. For more information, go to https://countrysideconservancy.worldsecuresystems.com/BookingRetrieve.aspx?ID=61588.

If, like me, you forgot about this fab pumpkin cake, here’s the recipe. It could be the hero of the dessert table at Thanksgiving.

pumpkin 016
PUMPKIN SOUFFLE CAKES
•    1 1/2 cups canned or fresh pumpkin puree
•    6 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
•    Pinch of nutmeg
•    1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
•    2 tsp. vanilla
•    8 large eggs, separated
•    1 cup sugar
•    1 1/2 tsp. grated orange rind
•    Salt
•    Pinch of cream of tarter
•    1/2 cup cake flour

Grease and flour a 10- to 11-inch springform pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using homemade pureed pumpkin, drain it in a fine mesh sieve until it is about the texture of canned pumpkin.

Place puree in a small bowl and microwave for 1 minute on high power, or until hot. Beat in butter a tablespoon at a time. Stir in nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Set aside.

Beat egg yolks in the bowl of a mixer to combine. Continue beating while gradually adding 3/4 cup of the sugar. Beat at medium-high speed until mixture is thick and lemon-colored, and drops in a ribbon when the beater is lifted. Beat in orange rind, a pinch of salt and pumpkin mixture until smooth. Scrape into a large bowl.

In a clean mixer bowl, beat egg whites with the whisk attachment until frothy. Add cream of tartar and increase speed to high, beating until soft peaks form. Continue beating while adding remaining ¼ cup sugar a little at a time. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Sift together flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt onto a piece of waxed paper. Pour back into sifter. Stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture to lighten it. Add half of the remaining egg whites and sift some of the flour over the batter. Gently fold. Continue folding remaining egg whites and sifted flour into the batter just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until cake begins to shrink from the sides of the pan and center is set. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then run a knife around edge and remove springform sides. Cool completely. Top with whipped cream dusted with nutmeg, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

TIDBITS

Mike Vrobel of Copley has been a busy guy. Not only does he continue to write his well-received food blog, Dad Cooks Dinner (www.DadCooksDinner.com), but he just published his third book.

“Rotisserie Turkey” debuted in late October as an e-book and in paperback just in time for Thanksgiving. The book covers the basics of cooking the big bird on the grill and moves on to 29 recipes for whole turkeys, turkey breasts, brines, glazes and side dishes bathed in the drippings.

The book is $2.99 for the Kindle edition and $8.99 for paperback from Amazon.

THE MAILBAG

From Jane S.:
For the guy looking for Russian tea biscuits, they are available at Heinen’s. FYI, the brown sugar pear clafoutis from Orangette’s blog are terrific.

Dear Jane: Thanks. With all those pears in my crisper (they ripened perfectly), I need all the pear recipes I can get. I found the recipe you recommend at
http://orangette.blogspot.com/2013/10/it-made-impression.html/. It sounds like a winner.

From Diana:
My dad has a pear tree and he gave me lots of pears and so I made pear butter in the Crock-Pot! Originally it called for 6 cups of sugar, but it was delicious with only 1 cup of sugar.

Dear Diana: Good idea. Others who want to try this should peel, core and chunk up enough pears to fill the slow cooker half full. Add sugar, 1/2 to 1 cup pear or apple juice and spices if desired (cardamom would be delicious). Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours, until pears are very soft. Puree in a blender or food processor. Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks or freeze.

From Mickey Shankland, Rittman:
Here is my favorite meat loaf recipe — a bit different maybe.

MEAT LOAF MICKEY

•    2 1/2 lbs. meat loaf mix (ground beef and pork)
•    3 eggs
•    1/2 green pepper, chopped
•    1 1/2 tsp. oregano
•    1 tsp. garlic salt
•    2 tbsp. minced onion
•    3/4 cup barbecue sauce (I Use Sweet Baby Ray’s)
•    1 cup Grapenuts cereal
•    1 tsp. Lowery’s Seasoning Salt
•    1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
•    4 oz. fresh mushrooms, chopped
•    6 oz. shredded cheese (any kind)
•    1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
•    Bacon Strips

Mix everything except bacon strips with half of the tomato sauce. Shape into 2 loaves in a baking pan. Spread remaining tomato sauce on top and then bacon strips. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Serves 12.

From Virginia Braun:
This weather turns my mind to winter cooking like chili and meat loaf. I call it steaming up the windows — which begins with preserving foods for later. Your recipe is similar to my mom’s favorite from years ago. She only used Wonder’s white bread crumbs so I gave it up years ago when I switched to whole grains. Do you too use white bread?  If so, many label whole wheat breads still contain lots of white flour so do you think they would work? We just returned from St. Augustine, Fla., and my husband had a Cuban meat loaf sandwich at Mango Mangoes. (His only non-fish meal in 10 days.) He found it to be the best he’s ever eaten and the reluctantly given bite I had was awesome! They’d give no info out about their special spice mix. That same meat loaf-loving husband makes a pretty mean slow cooker one himself. The grandchildren asked for the recipe to give their mom! Keep steaming up those windows and sharing the results with us!

Dear Virginia: If your husband figures out a recipe for that Cuban meat loaf, I hope he shares. As for bread crumbs, I use whatever fresh bread I have on hand (except rye). Whole-grain bread makes great bread crumbs. Just tear the pieces into chunks and pulse them in your processor.

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