Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How green is your bean..

We celebrated my Mom's birthday a few days ago and left the door wide open on what she wanted. She loves pork steak and chose that. Pork steak is cut from the shoulder. Growing up our pork steaks were tenderized which made them look like a huge slab of hamburger. This is not what we had. I'm not a huge fan of pork steak, but I am a huge fan of my Mom and if she wants pork steak, she gets pork steak. I would recommend a marinade for the steaks to tenderize and my favorite is a bottle of Italian dressing. That's right, just grab your favorite bottle of Italian dressing and pour it in a zip top baggie and marinate away. Everything you need for a great marinade is in there. If it can make lettuce taste good...think what it can do for meat!

This post really isn't about the pork, or the baked Yukon gold potato (which is my favorite potato-hands down), but the green beans. Let me just say that these are hands down, without a doubt the BEST green beans I have ever eaten. I have eaten my fair share of green beans and for me to say that these are the best is saying something--trust me. There is a recipe, or rather a ratio, for these babies that I have used for years. I've already told you about my favorite cookbook here so I won't bore you with the details again. The ratio for these green beans came from that cookbook and I have only altered it a little because the results are spot on.

Great Green beans

5 (14.5 oz.) cans of Cut Green beans
7 strips of Bacon, cut into pieces
1 Tablespoon of cracked black pepper
1-2 teaspoons of Kosher salt

In a 3 quart heavy bottom pot, add bacon pieces. Cook bacon over medium heat until bacon is crisp and very brown. Add the juice from each can of green beans (CAREFUL: the first blast of steam will burn!). Bring the bacon and juice to a rolling boil, add green beans and pepper, stirring to incorporate the bacon. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 1 hour.

If you don't have the time to cook the beans for an hour, at least make sure you bring the juice to a boil before adding the beans and let them cook as long as you can on medium.

You may doubt that this will work, but trust me it will and it's fantastic!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ugly truth beautiful ending

I experienced a perfect storm in the kitchen recently when making my Mom's birthday cake. My Mom has always loved hot cake just out of the oven with no frosting. Once the cake has cooled she's pretty much done with it, unless it's a pound cake. My favorite pound cake to make is a Sour Cream Pound cake. What does it for me? Well, two things the first of which is the crust that develops on this cake. Secondly is the tenderness of this cake while at the same time being dense as pound cake should be. I think cake people call this a crumb, but I don't have good connotations with that word, so I'll just leave it at what I said.

It had been a while since I last made this cake and I forgot one of the issues I've had bundt pan is too small for the amount of batter this cake makes. I remember reading an article in a magazine (I think it might have been Southern Living) that you could pour water into your Bundt pans to know exactly what the yield is. Normally I use my Bundt pans for cake recipes in which I start with a boxed cake, and the ones (I have six Bundt pans) I have are perfect for these recipes. As I poured the batter into my cake pan I can remember thinking, "this sure is a lot of batter for this pan." But I passed it off thinking that there wasn't that much leavening in the batter and that it wouldn't rise that much. I did have the wherewithal to put the pan on a cookie sheet. I'll pause from the story to just say two words about that one particular move, "Thank God!" Having the cake oozing out of it's vessel was unsettling enough, the real horror occurred when it came time to release it from the pan.

I hate to have cakes stick! Hate it! I can well remember my one and only brush with silicone bake ware and the completely disastrous results, never again silicon, never again. I usually have great luck with cakes not sticking because I make sure they are adequately greased and floured. I have an old tube pan which was my Mother's and turned our perfect angle food cakes all the while I grew up, but I've been afraid to use it because I just can't stand for cakes to stick. As I just said, I normally hand grease and flour all my cake pans but didn't bother with that process [what was I thinking]because I thought spraying it with non-stick spray and having it in a non-stick pan would be sufficient. What I didn't consider until it was too late is the amount of sugar compared to the amount of flour this cake has and that I would have needed to grease and flour this pan especially for this cake. The cake stuck. It clung to the pan like a preschoolers first day of school.

As you can see from the picture above there was nearly 3/4 of the cake that stuck. Did I mention that I also had the oozy cake on the sheet pan which amounted to about a cupcake size portion? NO, well there was cake everywhere. I knew I was doomed from the get go when it started to spill over. Then came the real test and I didn't hear the classic release that comes form adequately greased and floured pans. So troubling, especially since it was for my Mom's birthday.

I did persevere and I have to say that this cake is delicious! If you love pound cake make this one. You will not be sorry. I would suggest you buy this pan or separate the batter into two Bundt pans.

Sour Cream Pound Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, room temp
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract


1. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, about five minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until the yolk disappears.

2. Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. I don't usually do this, I just add the soda and salt as the butter and sugar are mixing, and then pour in the flour with the same results. Add flour to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat batter at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in extracts. Pour into a greased and floured 12-cup tube pan.

3. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan, and cool completely on wire rack.

Note: You can add any citrus zest to this cake with it's accompanying extract to change the flavor of this cake. I've always wanted to try to make a chocolate pound cake with this recipe and see what happens. If it does happen, you'll be the first to know.

The crust of this cake is just wonderful, crunchy and sweet, making me wish there was a cake of just that. The beautiful part of this cake is that it really stands up to strawberries and ice cream. We opted not to have the ice cream, but the strawberries were perfect with this.

As you can see from this picture the ugly duckling turned into a beautiful swan! You can cover up a multitude of sins with fresh strawberries and ice cream! Happy Birthday, Mom! Love you.