Angie’s Kitchen – Potato Croquettes Round 2

Last week Ray and I tried our hands on another Angie’s Kitchen recipe from his grandmother’s 100 year old handwritten recipe book. This week we got to try our hand at adjusting the recipe to suit our modern palates. I’m not sure what Ray did with his, but for me, the changes I made were small, and I’m nearly there, but alas additional tweaking will be necessary before it is perfected.

If you read last week’s post, you’ll remember that this recipe was pretty decent right out of the gate. My biggest issue was that it lacked salt. This week I was very cognizant of that, and decided to make sure my water was very well salted when I boiled the potatoes, and that actually did the trick. I made sure to taste the potatoes before adding the egg, and to my surprise, the original amount of salt was enough. So, what did I change? A few things. Last week, my favorite part of the croquette was the underlying spiciness, so I upped the amount of pepper to 1/4 tsp and instead of a few grains of cayenne, I used a couple of healthy dashes! I also decided that as with most things, the croquettes would be better with cheese, so I diced some Smoked Gouda into 1 inch cubes, and placed it in the center of the potatoes. I refrigerated my potatoes for about 15 minutes before forming them into croquettes, which I think helped make them easier to shape. Oh, and I forgot to use the baking powder. I remembered that right as I was putting the first one in the frying pan. Oh, well.

Results? Well, the croquettes themselves were bigger this week to accommodate the cube of Smoked Gouda, which isn’t really a problem except for the fact that you need to eat quite a lot of potato before reaching the yummy smoked cheese. The cheese? Well, it was a delicious addition, but I would have liked a bigger cheese to potato ratio, and I want my cheese a little more melted.

It’s not perfect yet, but it does show potential. I know that I want more cheese in my next batch, and I am considering either finishing in the oven, only baking in the oven, or air frying. I’m close, but not there yet. Let’s here how things went for Ray.

Funny that Karen ended her round 2 adventure with the thought of using the air fryer in the future, because that’s where my round 2 adventure began. Or at least where I intended it to begin. My plan was to change up the flavor of the round 1 recipe by adding sour cream and chives, along with changing the cooking method from pan frying to air frying. Sometimes these experiments take on a life of their own and there is nothing you can do but go along for (or jump off of) the ride!

As you may recall, I ended round 1 by saying that I thought there wasn’t enough salt in the recipe – simply adding more to the mix for round 2 successfully took care of that. I also thought that the round 1 croquettes were a bit too dry, and I set out to remedy that issue as well. I was once again successful – so successful in fact that what I created was entirely too wet to roll into a croquette!

Just like that, the idea of using the air fryer flew out the window, as did preparing them the traditional way. If I couldn’t roll them for the air fryer, I certainly couldn’t roll them for pan frying either. Faced with this unexpected dilemma, I needed to decide what to do next.

Should I simply walk away and write up the experience as a failure, or should I try to fix what I had created? I decided to try and fix it – what did I have to lose at that point? If my attempt to fix it didn’t turn out well, I could still write about the failure, but what if my new idea worked in some way? Then I could share that experience instead.

After some quick thinking, I decided to try and add some flour to the mix. I added 3 tablespoons and found that it did help to remove a bit of the moisture, but it was still nowhere near enough for them to be rolled and air fried. I didn’t want to add more flour than that, because I didn’t want it to turn into potato dough or have nothing but the taste of flour.

I paused to think once again, and that’s when the idea for a giant oven baked croquette was born. Once again, what did I have to lose? If it turned into a big pile of mashed potatoes when I removed it from the pan, then at least I’d still have a nice side dish for dinner! I’m happy, and perhaps still a little bit surprised, to say that it actually worked!

After grabbing a slice of giant croquette, we all gave it a try. I was happy with the flavor of the sour cream and chives, and it definitely wasn’t dry! We served it with a little extra sour cream on the side, which was a nice, although certainly optional, addition. We enjoyed it very much with our dinner that evening.

Giant Oven Baked Sour Cream and Chive Potato Croquette

  • 2 cups warm mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon oil – divided
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs – divided

Add the milk, sour cream, salt, pepper, paprika, and baking powder to a large mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth.

Add the mashed potatoes and mix together until well combined, and then add the egg and chives and mix together again until well combined.

Stir in the flour until well incorporated.

Pour 1/2 of the tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom of a 9 inch round baking pan and brush it evenly across the bottom. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs evenly over the oil and then gently drop potato mixture, one tablespoon at time, on top of the breadcrumbs. Gently smooth the potatoes evenly over the breadcrumbs and then dab the top of the potatoes with the remaining half tablespoon of oil, follow by an even coating of the remaining 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. After removing from the oven, immediately use a knife to carefully loosen the croquette from the side of the pan and then gently shake the pan back and forth to make sure it is loose on the bottom. Once loose, turn out onto a plate, slice, and serve.

As they say, when life throws you lemons, make lemonade – or at least try to! Sometimes as hard as we try, an initial failure in the kitchen can’t be saved, but sometimes that failure can be turned into a successful happy accident! Thanks for joining us for another Angie’s Kitchen adventure. Have a great weekend!

From Angie’s Kitchen – Potato Croquettes

Welcome to our 7th edition of Angie’s Kitchen! For those of you that have been following along, you already know the deal. For those of you joining in for the first time, welcome! You can read more about what we do in Angie’s Kitchen here.

It was my turn to pick the recipe, so I reached for my grandma’s book to make my choice. Often I flip through the whole book and look at the recipes to decide which one we should make. This time, I just looked at the little table of contents that my grandma had conveniently included. The recipe for potato croquettes instantly caught my eye. There are very few savory recipes in the book, so we have been using them sparingly, but I decided it was time for one.

I did pause for a moment before making the final decision to go with it. What made me hesitate? My mind flashed back to our adventures with grandma’s rice croquettes. If you read that entry, you may recall the shock we both had during our individual attempts at making them. A seemingly very simple recipe resulted in both of our kitchens looking like some sort of cyclone or freight train had passed through them! Despite the memory of that day, I decided to go forward and hoped that the potato croquettes wouldn’t result in a similar disaster.

Surprises in Angie’s Kitchen can come in many forms. You might find ingredients without exact measurements or very vaguely written procedures that fail to include small details such as what temperature to use, or how long you should bake an item. This time around, I was surprised to find that none of the above was true. Most of the ingredients (cayenne being the one exception) had proper measurements and the procedure, although a bit short, was more than clear.

My one and only surprise this time came in the form of an ingredient. As I mentioned before, I chose the recipe from the table of contents where it was listed as “potato croquettes.” When I turned to the page with the recipe a few days later to see what ingredients were needed, I was surprised to see the slightly different title “nut and potato croquettes.” This certainly wasn’t a big deal or showstopper, I just found it to be an interesting, and perhaps a bit odd, ingredient for potato croquettes!

I went to work on making the recipe, and it was certainly easy enough to follow which was a nice change of pace. While the preparation did require several dishes and cooking utensils, when I was done, I was thankful that my kitchen did not look like the rice croquette disaster!

Potato croquettes

Overall, the flavor was pretty good, and they weren’t bad to eat, but during the taste test I quickly identified a few things that I would like to address in round 2. I felt that they could use a bit more salt than the recipe called for, and also, I found them to be a bit dry.

I will also stand by my first impression that the addition of pecans was an odd choice. They certainly didn’t result in an offensive taste or texture; it was quite the opposite. For us, they didn’t really result in any extra noticeable flavor at all! While I am not 100% certain of the direction I will go in round 2, I do know that I will be eliminating the pecans. I like pecans, but why waste them if you can’t taste them? On that note, I’ll turn this over to Karen to share her experience. Have a great weekend!

Angie’s original recipe

It’s funny, as I was cleaning up my kitchen, a thought occurred to me…. “I wonder if Ray’s kitchen looks as messy as the usual Angie’s Kitchen war zone?” Without any prompting from me, I see that he addressed the subject. My kitchen? It was absolutely destroyed, despite my efforts at mise en place (everything in place) beforehand. I always start with putting some thought into the process, and try to get organized, but I find that about halfway through, something happens and I’m in the weeds. It’s not that anything specific happens. I think it’s just me losing my composure and organization.

For this round, I agree that Angie did give a little more “intel”, but there was one part that made me stop and think. In the list of ingredients she includes the yolk of one egg. She also instructs us to roll the croquette in bread crumbs, dip them in an egg water mixture, then roll them in breadcrumbs once more. That made me wonder. The crumbs aren’t listed in the ingredients, so what about the egg? Was there only one egg yolk involved, or was there another covert egg in play? In the end, I decided there was indeed going to be a second egg in my interpretation as there probably should be some sort of binding ingredient in the croquette, and one egg yolk with a little water likely would not be enough to coat all the croquettes.

I was a little surprised to see the pecans in the croquettes, and did do a double check to ensure that I was on the correct page, but it sounds like I wasn’t as thrown off as Ray!

So, kitchen mess aside, how did the potato croquettes turn out? I would say they were rather successful! The only critique I had was the lack of salt, which squares precisely with Ray’s experience. I did kick myself a little for not tasting as I was preparing the croquettes, but it is a lesson for this recipe that I won’t forget in the future. As for the pecans? I quite liked them. I liked the added texture they provided. My husband Tom had no negative feedback concerning the pecans. My son Ryan? He didn’t notice them at all. He had no idea that there was any nut involved until I mentioned that Ray didn’t care for the pecans. My croquettes were not dry at all, which makes me wonder how Ray used the egg listed in the ingredients and if that made a difference.

The next round? I have all sorts of ideas floating around in my head, but have not settled on any one in particular. I just hope I manage to keep the kitchen fallout to a minimum.

Potato croquettes

One last note. I’m amused at how similarly we styled this dish. There was absolutely no consulting ahead of time, and yet me managed to produce eerily similar photos!

From Angie’s Kitchen – Easter Cake Revisited

Welcome to round 2 of Easter cake! In this round we each take a shot at trying to change and/or modernize the original recipe in some way. As I said at the end of round 1, we are free to research again and when creating a round 2 recipe, the sky is the limit. So, did my plane of cake soar high into those unlimited skies? No, it did not. It definitely made it past takeoff, but it remained more of a low flying sight seeing tour at best.

My goals for this round were to increase the amount of batter to better fill a 13×9 pan, to increase the moisture in the cake a bit and to add in some sort of pecan and brown sugar filling into the mix. I thought the original recipe was actually pretty nice overall and that it would make a nice base for a breakfast or coffee cake – I had the idea of Easter brunch in mind. In making the shift to a coffee cake, I also went from lemon flavoring to vanilla.

Producing more batter was simple enough – I just increased most of the ingredients by 25%. My one exception was the sugar, which I actually reduced from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup. I felt that the reduction of sugar in the batter would help accommodate the additional sweetness from the filling.

To increase the moisture, I went with one of my favorite tricks for doing so without adding a lot of extra fat. Instead of using oil or butter, I added 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt. I have read that if you are using or replacing 1/2 cup or less of butter or oil, you can do a 1 to 1 substitution without making what you are baking too dense and wet. I have used the trick before and it generally works pretty well and it did a decent job again, although for this recipe it did become a little more dense than the original cake.

Finally, for the filling I mixed brown sugar, flour, pecans and melted butter together. I froze the mixture for about 20 minutes and then crumbled it into frozen pieces before incorporating it into the batter. I chose to freeze it first so that when it was mixed into the batter it wouldn’t blend into it and change it into a butter brown sugar cake. I also wanted them to turn into little bursts of buttery brown sugar and pecan bites throughout the cake and it worked nicely as they melted while the batter baked around them, locking them in place.

When the cake finished cooling, I spread on the glaze topping. I kept the recipe the same as the original cake, but instead of lemon, for the thicker first layer I added some cinnamon and for the thinner portion of the glaze meant for decorating, I went with more vanilla. I also made four colors for the decorative glaze instead of just green – we don’t just make green Easter eggs, so I didn’t want just green frosting either!

First bite…. eww. The glaze was chalky and had a harsh bite to it. The thicker cinnamon portion had real cinnamon instead of flavoring, and it just didn’t work well. The thinner vanilla portion also wasn’t good – what went wrong when it was fine in round 1? Almost immediately, I realized it was human error – this human in his haste to get the cake glazed on a Sunday evening forgot to add in the melted butter.

As for the cake itself… As I described above, each individual change seemed to work well as I was putting the cake together. The sum of the parts however did not add up to the best end product. The little bursts of pecan, butter and brown sugar tasted pretty good and the cake alone wasn’t too bad either, although perhaps a bit too moist in the end.

All of the parts eaten together did not work well because of the mistake I had made with the glaze. I understood that of course, but why was it that the two decent parts, the filling and the cake, did not seem to go together well either when the glaze was taken out of the mix? Did the addition of the yogurt along with the frozen bits of butter melting while baking cause the extra moisture and denseness? Was the reduction in sugar in the batter to blame? Should I not have tried the yogurt idea at all and simply added oil?

I still haven’t come to any conclusions, and I’m not sure if I ever will. Some baking mysteries just can’t be solved, and perhaps we shouldn’t even try. Maybe the best thing to do is just cut your losses and try again. The one thing I do know is that I will not be sharing a new recipe for an Easter brunch cake with you today! Sadly, the best thing about the cake was the way it looked!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the kitchen to give my round 2 cake a proper send off – garbage pick up day is tomorrow. On that note, I’ll turn this over to Karen with fingers crossed that her round 2 went way better than mine did! Have a great weekend!

Ray and I took very different approaches to round 2! While Ray took large swings at the cake, my approach was to make smaller “tweaks”. I took that approach because the original cake was not too bad, perhaps a few small changes would bring it up to par. That, and remembering not to turn the oven off 10 minutes into the process.

I decided to use cake flour because I was looking for a lighter texture. I’m not sure just how much difference that made, but that’s what was in my head. I also decided to add a small amount of vegetable oil. This was again for the purpose of making the texture of the cake lighter. In keeping with the original, I used the hot water again, but not quite as much.

The next thing I thought about was flavor. I opted to add a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract along with the lemon. I’ve read that vanilla enhances everything, including lemon cakes and a quick perusal of my cookbooks confirmed that to be the case.

Next, I considered the baking vessel. I have a spring form pan that has a bundt insert. This pan is smaller than my other bundt pan so I thought it would do the trick. This also meant that I needed to make an educated guess about the baking time again. I went for 350F and thought 40-45 minutes would be in the ballpark.

Lastly, I considered the decoration. I liked the way the first frosting turned out, so I kept that and rather than mix another frosting color, introduced the green through sprinkles.

How did it go? not quite as well as I thought it would. I kept an eye on the cake, and pulled it out at about 44 minutes. A skewer test came out clean, but I wasn’t sure about the spring and the texture, so I put it back in for 3 minutes. I burned the fool out of my thumb when doing so, and when I pulled the cake back out of the oven, I suspected I may have gone too far as it was no longer making any sounds. I decorated the cake, then took some pictures of it. The moment of truth would be the taste test. First thoughts? It was dry. Damn! Those 3 extra minutes had taken a toll on the cake. Then flavor was assessed. It doesn’t taste bad, but it does taste bland. I suspect that the hot water isn’t doing this cake any favors. If you think about it, water will add nothing, but will dilute flavor, so a rethink is in order.

Easter Cake – Round 2

As Paul Hollywood would say, this is all style, no substance. So for now, I will still hold out hope that we can make a success of this cake. Perhaps a year from now, we can revisit this exercise, but for now, Happy Easter everyone!

From Angie’s Kitchen – Easter Cake

As many of you may know, From Angie’s Kitchen is a recurring segment on the blog where Ray and I attempt to decipher a book of recipes handwritten by his grandmother in her youth. As with many things from a hundred years ago, it is not always easy to figure out what terms may have changed in meaning over such a long period of time, and it is often devoid of many of the key instructions modern cooks look for today such as oven temperature, pan size, cooking or baking time. This is also what makes this exercise fun, challenging and frustrating. About a year ago, when we were deciding which recipe in the book we would like to try, Ray mentioned that he would really like to try baking the Easter cake recipe. If I recall correctly, we had a reason not to try to make that happen before Easter, but made a promise that we would revisit the Easter cake in one year, which was quite optimistic on our part. We were planning to still be blogging in a year’s time, and here we are, a year later!

On the initial perusal of this recipe, it wasn’t looking too bad. Wait. What? Boiling water? Does it really say boiling water? Indeed it does. Okay, that is something I’ve never heard of, but as with all these recipes, a blind leap of faith would be required. Everything else looked “normal”. Instructions appeared to be fairly straight forward. Instructions on how to mix the cake batter, that is. As for all other baking instructions? Those instructions were glaringly absent. I see. Another episode of the technical challenge from Bake Off -Food In-Laws style would be afoot.

For my attempt at this recipe, I noticed that besides the eggs, there wasn’t another fat in the cake. I do know that the addition of vegetable oil is the secret to a light and fluffy cake, so I concentrated a bit on how to make it light. I decided that I would make an effort to make sure the eggs were beaten to have plenty of air in them and folded the flour in gently. The next step was to add the boiling water, which I did slowly and gently. I felt pretty good about my batter. I decided to go with two 9 inch round pans at an oven temperature of 350F. I would shoot for a 20-25 minute bake time. Into the oven they went! I wanted to check in on them after about 10 minutes, so I turned the oven light on and peeked through the window. Things were looking pretty good! I thought I could see a rise happening. I was very encouraged!

So what happened next? Well, I took another peek at about 15 minutes. Not much difference. At 20 minutes I decided to open the door to check. I used the spring test and left an indentation on the cake. Not ready. I decided to go another few minutes, then do another spring test. Another indentation was left behind. What was going on? My confidence started to wane. Right around the 30 minute mark, my husband Tom walked into the kitchen. I shared with him my frustrations about the cake and he pointed out to me that the oven wasn’t even on. What??? How did that happen? Well, I certainly didn’t turn the oven off! Or did I? I quickly turned the oven back on. At this point the temperature read 223F. I was sunk. How could I have put so much effort and thought into this and still manage to screw it up? After an undetermined amount of time, I removed the cakes from the oven. This was probably as good as it would get. A little while later, I noticed the oven light was still on. I walked over and pushed the off button on the oven. The light was still on. Aha! It was me. I knew instantly that I had inadvertently turned off the oven while intending to turn off the light.

Once the cakes were out of the oven and cooling, I debated what to do. I decided that I wanted to taste the cakes before going to the trouble of making a frosting and decorating. How would I do that? I would let them cool and then cut out circles with a biscuit/cookie cutter and taste the scraps before deciding what to do. They weren’t all that bad. The mini cakes were slightly under baked and dense, but considering what I’d done, not bad. I went on to make the frosting and decorate.

Easter Cake

As I write this, I’m torn. What might this cake have been if I hadn’t botched things with the oven? Is it worth revisiting to see, or am I ready to move on? I’m not sure, but I am interested in hearing how things went for Ray….

Angie’s Recipe

As you may know, we don’t talk about how to interpret and make Angie’s kitchen recipes before we each try them for the first time. It is always fun for me to see how many of the same things about the recipe stood out for each of us when we write our post. Sometimes totally different things catch our eyes, and other times, like this round, we tend to fixate on the same things.

I had the same reaction regarding the fact that other than eggs, there was nothing in the category of fat, like butter or oil. I thought back to the time when we made grandma’s white cake, which was a bit dense and dry. That recipe only had a little bit of butter and one egg. This recipe had no butter, but it called for 4 eggs and I was hopeful that using that many eggs would help compensate for the lack of an additional fat.

Like Karen, I was also focused on the the fact that the recipe called for boiling water. I have never seen boiling water used in a cake recipe before either, but my best guess as to why it called for it was because of the 1 1/2 cups of sugar in the recipe. Perhaps the purpose was to help dissolve the sugar rapidly so you wouldn’t end up with a cake that was crunchy from the granules.

Lack of fat and boiling water aside, I went ahead with mixing up the ingredients. The procedure for mixing the cake was pretty clear and in no time, my batter was ready to go into the pan and the oven. As you already know from what Karen wrote above, pan size, time and temperature were a total mystery! For some reason I was not seeing a layer cake for this recipe and based on the amount of batter I had in the bowl after mixing it up, I decided it was enough for a 13×9 pan. I also chose to go with 350 degrees and I started with 20 minutes on the timer.

I’m usually pretty cautious about choosing time when I don’t have clear directions, and I thought 20 minutes for a pan that size was a good starting point. I’m glad I only chose 20 minutes because much to my surprise, 20 minutes was not only a good starting point, it was also a good ending point! I guess luck was on my side that day.

When it first came out of the oven, based on looks alone, I thought for a second that I had gone back in time to last year when we made Angie’s white cake. This cake looked exactly the same! My hope was that despite the outward appearance, it would be less dense and more moist than the white cake was.

I moved on to the frosting which was basically a thick glaze, something similar to royal icing in texture. The directions said to mix the powdered sugar, milk and lemon flavoring together and then spread “some” on the cake and save “some” to add the melted butter and green coloring to to use for decorating. Gee, thanks grandma – how could you have known more than 50 years before I was born that “some” would be my favorite unit of measurement?!?

Cleary the portion reserved for decorating would need to be thinner. Based on the thickness of the initial mix, I guessed that the “some” that I should reserve would need to be less than half of what I started with. I felt pretty safe with that guess because I was sure that 2 teaspoons of melted butter wouldn’t be enough to thin out half of the mix. I decided to spread two thirds on the cake and save one third for decorating. It was a good try, but it still wasn’t thin enough to drizzle on top in the decorative way that I had imagined. Instead, it fell off the spoon in fairly thick globs which didn’t look particularly nice, so I just spread it evenly over the first layer.

After dinner that evening, we were ready to give the cake a test drive. It rose well, although not as tall as I had hoped. Perhaps the 13×9 pan was just a bit too big. That aside, we were pleasantly surprised that we didn’t have another white cake on our hands. The 4 eggs and cup of water seemed to do the trick in adding a decent amount of moisture to the cake.

It wasn’t the most moist cake I’ve ever had, but it was moist enough that it was enjoyable to eat. We found the texture to be interesting as well – my wife thought it was a bit similar to sponge cake, and I thought it was a bit like pound cake. We agreed that in terms of texture, it fell somewhere between the two.

It aged well too – we had another slice the next day and found that it was even more moist than the first day. I have often found that cakes that are glazed or have a glaze like frosting on them will draw in some moisture from the glaze. All in all, I’d have to say this was a pretty successful first round and a very nice cake for a 100+ year old recipe.

Prediction time. Will Karen give it a second try? I say yes! I believe we think similarly in these situations. If the recipe were a complete disaster from start to finish, I’d probably walk away. But to come that close and only fall a bit short because of an unfortunate mishap like switching off the oven by mistake? That would bother me too much, and I’m pretty sure it would bother her too!

On that note, I will now turn my thoughts to round two and the changes that I might like to make to this recipe. The sky is the limit in round two regarding changes, and research regarding procedure and ingredients is back on the table!

Until next time, I hope you all have a great weekend!

From Angie’s Kitchen – Brownies Revisited

Welcome to round two of brownies from Angie’s kitchen. Last week we followed my grandma’s recipe to the letter as we do in round one – or as close to the letter as we possibly can given the occasional set of esoteric directions! For round two, we get to research ideas and we can alter the recipe in any way we choose.

You may recall that I ended round one by saying that the original recipe was pretty good and the flavor was nice, but they were a bit sweet and extremely chewy. I enjoy a good chewy brownie, but my hope for round two was that I could make them a little less taffy like and more like the chewy type of brownie I am used to eating. Also on my agenda was to lower the level of sweetness a bit.

I did a bit of research this time and found dozens of variations on recipes for brownies. Some used twice the butter of our original recipe, some had more flour, some had less, some used more eggs, some used cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate and some used just a touch of baking powder. At one point I even stumbled across a story about Katharine Hepburn and her brownie recipe! She is one of my wife Lori’s favorite actresses, so I had to pause a moment and share the story with her. It’s a pretty amusing tale and if you are interested in reading it, click here.

A funny coincidence happened right when I was going to share the Katharine Hepburn story with Lori – she was coming to tell me that she was watching Giada and she was making brownies. She told me how she made hers and suddenly I had one more piece of research in my brownie making arsenal. All of this information was great, but in the end it was up to me to decide how I wanted to change grandma’s recipe and what those changes would be.

My ultimate choice of changes were fairly simple. First, I decided that the sugar needed to be decreased since I wasn’t using an unsweetened chocolate which made my original attempt a bit too sweet. I thought that lowering the sugar would also help in reducing the extreme chewy quality, but I felt I needed to go a step further in trying to deal with that as well. So, I decided to add a bit more moisture to the mix in order to help better dissolve the sugar by adding an extra tablespoon of butter and an additional egg.

I briefly debated the use of baking powder, but decided that I would keep true to the original recipe in that area and skipped it. I figured that if no baking powder was good enough for my grandma Angie and Katharine Hepburn, then it was good enough for me!

One other small note I didn’t discuss last week. The original recipe included chopped nuts. I generally don’t care for them in my brownies, so I left them out when I made them. The same holds true for my round two recipe. I didn’t use them, but have included them as an optional add in if you enjoy them.

Brownies 2.0

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ounces 72% dark chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts of choice (if desired)

Cream together the sugar, butter and vanilla with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Beat in the eggs at a slow speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Next, do the same with the melted chocolate – make sure the chocolate isn’t too hot, you don’t want the eggs to cook.

Mix in the flour by hand until just combined and then mix in the nuts if you are using them.

Spread the mixture evenly in a greased 7 inch square pan and bake at 325 degrees for 25 to 27 minutes. Cool thoroughly and then cut into 16 squares.

Brownies 2.0

In the end, I was really happy with the results and the taste test went over well with my family. They still had that delicious brownie flavor and the reduction in sugar made them more enjoyable and didn’t leave you feeling like you were trapped in a major sugar rush!

The only thing I am still debating is did I overstate the reduction in the chewy quality? They were no longer taffy like which was good and they were still pretty fudgy, but maybe I leaned a bit too much toward a cake like brownie in the end. Perhaps going back to one egg and sticking with the extra butter and reduced sugar would have brought me right where I wanted to be.

Time to try brownies 3.0? Possibly, but for now I’ll put that on the back burner. On that note, I’ll hand this off to Karen to share her round two experience.

It’s always fun to see how Ray and I approach the 2nd rounds of our From Angie’s Kitchen challenges. Often we come to the same conclusions, but we also diverge quite frequently in our solutions. I think this round we did a little of both.

First though, I’ll share a little of my research with you. The very first brownie is credited to Bertha Palmer and her pastry chef made as part of a boxed lunch for society ladies attending the 1893 World’s Columbian Expedition in Chicago. This brownie is still being made today and may be purchased at the Palmer House Hotel. So, if you happen to be in Chicago, and you love brownies, that’s where to sample the original.

The first known mention of a brownie in a cookbook is in the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer published in 1896, but this confection did not contain chocolate. It utilized molasses. I’m curious as to what this would taste like, but perhaps not curious enough to try baking it myself. However, by the time the 1906 edition was published, chocolate was included and the recipe is nearly identical to the one we made last week.

Before beginning my revisions for round 2, I had to break down what I thought of round 1 and what needed to change. The thing I liked most about the first brownie was the fact that it tasted like a Tootsie Roll. Was that worth pursuing? I decided that as amusing as it was, that would not be the direction I would go in. What was wrong with the first brownie? A lot. It was too sweet, too chewy and too flat. That was what I would work on.

To achieve these objectives, I did not reduce the sugar. Instead, I upped my chocolate game. This round I used a bittersweet chocolate, doubled the amount and added cocoa powder. I felt like this would bring balance to the brownies. I remembered what a minuscule amount of batter there was last week, so I increased the amount of flour and skipped the sifting. I added a second egg and bumped up the amount of butter just as Ray did, but unlike Ray, I did add a small amount of baking powder and salt. One of the observations Tom had made last week was that he felt the original brownies weren’t mixed well enough, so I incorporated the ingredients differently this time.

2nd Time Around Brownies

  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 TBSP butter
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate 70%
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×9 square baking pan.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler or microwave and set aside to cool.

In a large separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add chocolate and butter mixture and beat until well mixed. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the batter and once well incorporated, add remaining flour and mix well.

Spread into prepared 9×9 pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

2nd Time Around Brownies

This brownie was much more successful than the first batch. It was certainly less chewy than the first, but I let this batch go for the full 25 minutes. I think had I taken them out a minute or two sooner, they would have had a slightly better texture. I would also consider folding the flour mixture in the next time around instead of continuing with the mixer. The taste was quite good as well. Tom pronounced it to be a good brownie, so I’ll take that considering it is one of the few sweets he likes.

Brownies 3.0 you say, Ray? Why yes, I have an idea already. I’m not sure when I’ll have it perfected, but another brownie will be coming…

From Angie’s Kitchen – Brownies

It’s been a while since we visited Angie’s Kitchen, so we thought starting the New Year with another attempt of deciphering Angie’s book of recipes would be fun. If you’ve never seen one of these posts, they are our attempts to interpret a hand written book of recipes that belonged to Ray’s grandmother that bears her maiden name. This would date the book to likely have been written sometime in the 1920’s. It comes complete with terminology that is not always clear by today’s language and is often short on the details. Sort of like the technical challenge on The Great British Baking Show, but our own family version. This round it was my turn to choose, so I thought why not brownies!

This recipe seems relatively straight forward, well, except for the lack of instruction for baking time and the ever nebulous instruction to bake in a slow oven. I also took note of the lack of a leavening agent and the absence of salt, but round 1 of Angie’s kitchen is about following the instructions in the book as written, and doing research afterwards. In other words, we are not allowed to cheat until round 2.

I gathered my ingredients, which in hind sight I should have put a little more thought into, then began to make the recipe. As I began beating the mixture, it dawned on me that the chocolate I had selected was a poor choice. I’d used my Callebaut 54.5%, which is a semisweet chocolate. This recipe includes an entire cup of sugar. I should have used a bittersweet chocolate, but at that point, it was too late to change so I soldiered on. The instructions said to beat well. I felt like I had incorporated the ingredients well, but didn’t really attempt to whip any air into it. Was that a mistake? I’m not entirely sure if that was even possible as the mixture was quite thick. The consistency to me was closer to fudge than what I think of as a brownie batter.

Next, I spread the mixture into the closest thing I had to a 7 inch square pan, which was an 8 inch Pyrex dish. It was evident that this recipe was quite different from those I’ve made in the past, as the amount in the dish was quite a bit smaller than what I would usually make. The other decision I needed to make was temperature. Instinctively, I wanted to set my bake temperature at 350 F, and I did, but the niggling little voice in my head kept whispering “she said slow oven, slow oven…”. Plus I felt the quiet, unspoken judgement from Tom sitting in the next room. From previous experience in the kitchen of Angie, I knew that slow oven tops out at 325F, so I was forced to stop, open the oven door for a minute, then reset the temperature to 325F. A bit neurotic you say? Yeah, well probably.

So, the last decision to be made was timing. I usually bake brownies for about 25 minutes, but these seemed quite thin to me so I kept a close eye on them. After 20 minutes I checked them, and felt they definitely needed more time so I settled for my usual 25 minutes. They looked baked enough and I no longer heard the same level of bubbling that I did at twenty minutes, so out they came.

So, how did they turn out? They had a nice glossy top, which was good. They were lighter in color than my usual brownies, but that is probably reflective of my chocolate choice. And they were thin, which is likely because my pan size was significantly bigger that called for and there was lack of leavening agents. They were quite chewy. So chewy that they stuck to my teeth. They were also quite sweet, almost candy like. Upon tasting them, Tom immediately pronounced what it is that they tasted like – Tootsie Rolls! He really hit the nail on the head with his description.

This was certainly different from what we usually expect from a brownie these days and will prompt me to do a little more research into the history of the brownie before the next round. I would classify this as a mixed result. Not bad, but room for improvement. Now let’s see how Ray fared….

Angie’s Original Recipe

I was happy when Karen chose this recipe. Given the choice for a snack, more often than not I will reach for something salty, but brownies are the exception to that rule – I love them! They remind me of my father’s sister, my Aunt Teresa, who was also my godmother.

She made some of the most delicious brownies on the planet and she kept several batches at the ready in her freezer. Whenever you would go to visit her, if you were a brownie fan she would never let you leave without taking a batch home. She was an excellent cook and baker and she made everything from scratch, so one day I asked her what recipe she used for her brownies. She laughed and gave me the most unexpected reply! She said “Everyone asks me that and they don’t believe me when I tell them this is one thing I don’t make from scratch – they come from a box!” Box or not, I don’t know what she did when she made them, but to this day I have never had brownies quite like hers!

Now to the matter at hand – how did my grandma’s recipe work out for me? Compared to other recipes from Angie’s kitchen, this one was like a walk in the park for me. I guess I was in some sort of zone, because the usual lack of exact directions didn’t slow me down one bit this time.

The slow oven notation was something that I had researched long ago, many years before we started this blog when I first discovered grandma’s recipe book. For some reason, without giving it much thought it immediately popped into my head that a slow oven meant the 300 to 325 degree range.

The lack of leavening agent that gave Karen a moment of pause wasn’t even a thought in my head. I had tried other brownie recipes in the past and recalled that many of them, particularly the ones labeled chewy or fudgy, didn’t use one. I went to work and when everything was mixed together, I looked at the batter and thought that it looked a bit grainy still.

Perhaps I hadn’t mixed it together enough, but I didn’t really question it either because the recipe called for quite a bit of sugar so it didn’t seem that odd to me. My best guess regarding the chocolate was that grandma probably used unsweetened because of all of the sugar in the recipe, but I didn’t have any on hand. Luckily I did have some 72% dark, so I went with that.

I put the mixture into the pan – to my surprise we actually had a 7 inch square pan in the cabinet! I chose to go with the upper end of the slow oven range and set it to 325 degrees, and in doing so I felt no judgement from Lori, silent or otherwise! 😃 My only real debate was how long to bake them. I figured better safe than sorry and checked them after just 15 minutes – they were still way too wet in the middle, so I added 5 more minutes. Closer, but still not close enough, so I added another 5 minutes. At that point, they were very close and I removed them after an additional 2 minutes which brought my total time to 27 minutes.

They looked pretty good when they came out of the oven and they smelled just like a brownie should, but I waited until they cooled to taste them. I am often guilty of cutting brownies too soon because I can’t wait to eat one and that of course makes a bit of a crumbly mess!

After patiently waiting, I found it a bit ironic that cooling this recipe all the way made them a little tough to cut! As Karen mentioned above, they were quite chewy and that quality made for a tougher time when cutting them. They were very sweet, but overall the flavor was spot on and we liked them. Even though I prefer my brownies on the chewy side, these were almost like a brownie taffy. We all agreed that that was something I should try and address in round 2.

One interesting thing we noticed when we ate some the next day was that the excessive chewiness had mellowed a bit and they were much more like the brownies we are used to eating. All things considered, I would say this was a pretty decent recipe and must have been quite a treat back in the 1920’s when my grandma was growing up.

I’m looking forward to making some of the changes I have in mind for round 2 – I’m also looking forward to eating more brownies! Until next time, have a good weekend!

From Angie’s Kitchen – Butterscotch Cookies Revisted

After last week’s cookie round, I felt like there was lots of opportunity to turn this recipe which we already liked into something truly wonderful. As I sat taste testing and discussing the pros and cons of the cookie with Tom, a whirlwind of ideas quickly took shape.

The flour I’d used was a winner that needed to remain in the recipe. It was Janie’s Mill Frederick, which is a stoned milled soft white wheat. Besides a nice flavor, there was a texture it gave that we both agreed we really enjoyed.

There was a hint of butterscotch flavor that we both tasted in the cookie, but that we felt needed to come forward. Tom suggested a better butter would help so instead of an unsalted rather anemic and generic butter, he thought a better quality Kerrygold with salt would act to enhance the butterscotch flavor. I couldn’t argue with that. I felt he was right on the money. Next, he suggested that instead of light brown sugar, I should use half light brown and half dark brown sugar. This sounded plausible, so I googled it. Many cooks prefer using dark brown sugar to get more of a butterscotch flavor into their sauces, custards and such so that sounded like a good idea to me. I thought about switching entirely to dark brown sugar, but knowing I was already going to make several changes to the original recipe, I felt like the half measure was a good idea, because if I made too many drastic changes, I’d never figure out the impact each change made.

I always knew I’d up the amount of vanilla in the recipe. That was a given.

Next came the question of add-ins. I had already thought about butterscotch chips, but also knew that the brand of chip I wanted wasn’t going to show up on my doorstep in time for this week’s post, so I needed to think about it a bit longer. Tom was pretty eager to opine about the nuts. He didn’t dislike the walnuts we’d used in the first round, but wasn’t shy to put forth macadamia as his candidate and why not white chocolate chips for that matter? I was open to the idea of macadamia, but not the white chocolate chips. There was something else I’d seen and after straining my brain for a little while I remembered having watched a YouTube episode of Cupcake Jemma about making caramelized white chocolate. It was my eureka moment. It wouldn’t be butterscotch “on the nose”, but it would enhance the flavor of the cookie overall (at least it would in my mind). So, I set about looking for a good quality white chocolate to make the caramelized white chocolate and came across Dulcey by Valrhona. With the Dulcey chocolate, Valrhona had already done the process of caramelizing the white chocolate for me. I’d been curious to try Valrhona for a while, so I put together an order large enough to get free and fast shipping and began to get a little too excited over the prospect of special chocolate arriving quickly. Once I received the shipment of chocolate and taste tested it, I knew I was onto something. I had also added some white chocolate to the order and while taste testing noticed that the two together tasted even better.

Lastly there was the question of baking soda vs. baking powder and the amount. I felt certain that the original tablespoon of baking powder in round one was the reason for the brittleness of the cookie, but even after doing some research felt unsure about which way to go. I finally decided to stick with baking powder because of the overnight rest in the refrigerator. My instincts told me to use 1 teaspoon, but I hesitated and used 1.5 teaspoons instead.

Karen’s Butterscotch Cookies 2.0

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 6 TBSP Kerrygold butter melted and cooled
  • 1 3/4 cups Janie’s Mill Frederick flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped dry roasted and salted macadamia nuts
  • 3/4 cup Valrhona Dulcey feves cut in half (or other caramelized white chocolate discs)
  • 1/4 cup Valrhona white chocolate feves cut in half

Beat egg until light in color. Add brown sugar, vanilla, melted butter and beat well. Sift flour and whisk with salt and baking powder. Mix flour blend into first mixture one half at a time. Mix in nuts and chocolate. Shape dough into a 24 cm long log and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Slice log into 1 cm rounds, place on parchment or silicon lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 24 cookies.

Notes: This cookie is really delicious. The butterscotch flavor was much more evident. The choice to use salted butter as well as salted roasted macadamia nuts really counterbalances the sweetness beautifully. The choice of chocolate really was a splurge, but it was also an investment worth making as it added a real decadence to the cookie. I baked the cookies in two batches. The first batch was perfect and although the second batch was baked for the same amount of time, that dough had been out of the refrigerator for about 5 minutes longer and the cookies came out slightly overdone, but still delicious. The next time I bake this cookie, I will probably just put the whole stick of butter in the dough instead of 6 TBSP and I will use 1 tsp of baking soda instead of the baking powder as I think it will improve the texture of the cookie which is acceptable as is, but is something I would like to describe as exceptional in the future.

This was my most successful Angie’s Kitchen part 1 and part 2. Let’s see how Ray fared on round 2.

I also enjoyed the original version of this cookie which I will again say was more like a nice biscotti to be enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Despite enjoying it, I was a little disappointed by the lack of butterscotch flavor that the title promised.

As I said at the end of the last round, the name “butterscotch cookies” did make sense to me when I looked up the ingredients in butterscotch and found that they were very similar to the ones in the cookie recipe. It’s also understandable that a recipe from the 1920s, a time when all of the amazing ingredients we have today were not available, might not taste like butterscotch as we know it today. Nevertheless, for round two I really wanted to turn this recipe into one that gave me a real burst of butterscotch flavor.

Karen and I didn’t talk much in between rounds this time, but it appears that we both traveled down many of the same roads before making our final recipe choices. We both considered the idea of a blend of light and dark brown sugar and the idea of using butterscotch chips. We both considered increasing the butter from 6 to 8 tablespoons and we both also revisited the baking soda vs. baking power debate.

Interestingly enough, with all of the similar contemplation, we both ended up going in total opposite directions! I decided I would shift from slice and bake to drop cookies and I wanted a slightly softer dough for that purpose, so where Karen decided to stay with the 6 tablespoons of butter, I went with 8. She moved away from the butterscotch chips in favor of the blended brown sugar idea and I left that idea behind in favor of the chips.

I also wanted my end result to be a softer and chewier cookie instead of a crunchier one like the original recipe produced. I felt that the increase in butter would help that along and once again, I decided to go down the opposite road as Karen and I switched to baking soda. Baking soda gives that nice chewy quality to chocolate chip cookies and I hoped it would work the same way for mine.

My other changes included reducing the amount of brown sugar by 1/4 of a cup to help compensate for the extra sweetness that the butterscotch chips would provide and switching from walnuts to cashews. I thought the bit of salt in the cashews would help balance the sweetness of the chips even further as well as giving this cookie an updated and more modern elevated feel.

Ray’s Round 2 Butterscotch Cookies

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter – softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted cashews

In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking soda and salt together and then mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, one half at a time, until well combined and the dough forms.

Mix in the butterscotch chips and cashews by hand until well combined and chill the dough for at least an hour before baking. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons (or use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop) onto a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes approximately 2 to 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

In the end, the changes I made worked really well for this cookie. It had the softer texture I was looking for, the butterscotch chips gave me the flavor I was hoping to experience from the moment I first saw the title of the original recipe and the bit of saltiness and richness that the cashews added created a very nice contrast to the sweetness of the cookie.

I have to echo Karen’s thoughts and agree that this was also my most successful journey into Angie’s kitchen to date. Not only did I walk away with one recipe I would enjoying making again, I’m walking away with two which is indeed a rare outcome!

I’d like to end this post by saying I’m off to enjoy another cookie right now, but unless I make another batch that isn’t possible – the cookies in the picture above are long gone! Until next week, I hope you all have a great weekend!

From Angie’s Kitchen – Butterscotch Cookies

Welcome back to Angie’s kitchen – our last visit was back in May, but in between visits grandma’s cookbook is always waiting to take us on a new adventure! For those of you who are new to our blog, welcome! If you’d like to learn more about what our Angie’s kitchen posts are all about, please click here.

It was my turn to select a recipe to try and it didn’t take me long to choose the butterscotch cookies. Since we started this adventure, the recipe always seemed to catch my eye. I shared my choice with Karen and then got to work. Round one was under way with our usual rule in place – no discussing how to interpret the recipe!

After a quick read, like so many other recipes in the book, it seemed like this would be a simple one to pull off. Those of you that are familiar with Angie’s kitchen know that that is seldom the case and it wasn’t long before I was presented with a mystery. Things started out ok… Beat together eggs, light brown sugar and melted butter. Nothing strange there.

Next, add 3 1/2 cups of soft wheat flour – I’ve seen that term in other recipes in her book as well. Is that sifted wheat flour? White flour? Something else? Remember that this book was handwritten by my grandma when she was a teenager in the 1920’s and some of the terms included are not ones we commonly use today. Google has been very helpful in unraveling the old terminology and a quick search let me know that soft wheat flour is generally known as cake flour or pastry flour today.

With the mystery solved, I moved on and immediately ran into a second one. After I added my “soft wheat flour,” I was instructed to add 2 tablespoons baking. Baking? Baking what?? Powder? Soda? You seem to have left out a word grandma! Clearly this was something that Google could not resolve and since my grandma is no longer around at 109 years old to ask, the mystery needed to be resolved with a leap of faith.

I have seen cookies made with baking powder and cookies made with baking soda, but most that I have made seem to use powder. For that reason, and that reason alone, I decided to go with baking powder. So how did they turn out?

The slice and bake method produced a series of uniformly shaped cookies. My wife said the flavor kind of reminded her of the slice and bake sugar cookies you can buy in the store. I could definitely taste hints of that as well. They also reminded me of a softer, but still somewhat crunchy, version of biscotti.

They were similar in texture to some of the other “old world” style cookies I remember my grandma making and that made me feel like I had made the right choice with the baking powder. If I close my eyes, I can picture her and her sister breaking them out after dinner and dunking them in their coffee as they liked to do.

That leaves one question left to answer – did they taste like butterscotch? For my family and me, the answer was no. I wondered for a moment how they got their name and then I stopped and looked up the ingredients in butterscotch. The primary ingredients are butter and brown sugar which happen to be two of the primary ingredients in this cookie recipe – I guess I got my answer!

Despite the cookies not tasting like butterscotch, I found them to be quite good and even something that I would make again in the future. On that note, I’ll turn it over to Karen to see how her experience went.

Angie’s Original Recipe

Both Tom and myself were very pleased with Ray’s selection of Butterscotch Cookies for this round. As I am sure I’ve already mentioned, Tom is not into sweets, but there are a few things he makes exceptions for, and one of them is butterscotch.

I would agree with Ray that this recipe did give a bit more information than the others, but a quick glance did present the question of baking powder vs. baking soda and like Ray, I went baking powder. I also questioned the amount. I know from watching countless episodes of The Great British Baking Show that too much baking powder can result in a bitter taste, but in the spirit of round one, I decided to stick to the instructions given by Grandma Angie.

So, that brings me to the point where I was gathering the other ingredients and read “soft wheat flour”, which is where I believe Ray committed a rules infraction. You see, we are supposed to make the Angie’s Kitchen recipes round one based purely on what is written on the page and what knowledge we already possess. No research (Googling) until round 2. Since it has been a few months, I’ll let this one slide with a simple reminder. I knew enough from my bread baking that there is “hard wheat” and “soft wheat” and that the hard wheat is higher in protein which is better for bread making and soft wheat is lower in protein which seemed more logical for a cookie. So, I thought about my current flour collection and what I had on hand that I thought would best represent a “soft wheat flour”. I know what you are thinking. “She has a flour collection?” Yes, I do. Don’t judge. Anyway, the flour that came to mind is one I purchased from Janie’s Mill called Frederick. I’ve used it in the past to make some beautifully soft dinner rolls. I pulled it out of the pantry and noted the label had a picture of a cookie on it so I decided it was meant to be.

The instructions for this recipe were straight forward and easy to follow, but at a glance, it is easy to see that this is quite a large recipe, so I only made a half recipe. Grandma’s parents owned a boarding house, so as written the recipe would feed an army. I liked the technique of rolling the dough into a log and slicing, and it did remind me of the tubes of cookie dough from the grocery store. I baked 2/3rds of the log and decided to freeze the rest. That amount made 24 cookies which are quickly dwindling even though only 2 people have been eating them.

So, how did we think they tasted? Both Tom and myself really liked them. They are not as sweet as a lot of cookies, but in my opinion that works in their favor. Using the Frederick flour which I now see Janie’s lists as cake flour was an excellent choice and I would not change that. Texturally, they are quite crunchy on day two so I get Ray’s comments on biscotti, which might be a really nice direction in which to take this recipe. As for the butterscotch flavor? Both Tom and I get a hint of butterscotch especially from the cookies that had the brownest bottoms, but we already have some ideas on how to try to bring that flavor forward for round 2.

See you next week for round 2!

Dear friends, please forgive my Google indiscretion. The next time I find myself wondering what the rules are, I promise to stop and ask myself WWKD – What would Karen do?

From Angie’s Kitchen – Rice Croquettes Revisited

As we wrapped up round one last week, I hinted that I was considering going in a very different direction when I made my round two croquettes. Before I even made the first round, my immediate thoughts on how I might change them included adding different types of cheese and herbs and perhaps even something like crumbled bacon. When round one was finished and I took a taste, the hint of sweetness that came from the sugar kept pulling me away from my original thoughts and in a new direction and so, the idea of making rice pudding croquettes was born!

I immediately came up with ideas about the changes that would be needed – increase the sugar, cut the salt and replace it with vanilla, remove the parsley and replace it with cinnamon and of course, swap out the bread crumbs for graham cracker crumbs.

With the ingredient list in place, my next thought was that I needed to find a way to speed up the whole process. It didn’t take long for me to decide that the double boiler needed to go. It is a perfectly fine kitchen tool, but for this recipe, it just made an already long process take even longer. Between ousting the double boiler and using microwave rice again, I was sure to be done more quickly in round two.

I decided that in order to use a regular pot, I would need to increase the amount of milk. The gentle cooking that comes from using a double boiler was no doubt employed to prevent the egg from cooking as you heated it with the rice until it thickened. By adding more milk in a 1 to 1 ratio, 1 cup of milk to 1 egg which is the basis for the most simple of custards, you end up with a mixture that will thicken, but not turn into scrambled eggs. The idea worked pretty well and to increase the thickness even more to make the croquettes easier to form, I also added a bit of corn starch to the recipe.

Rice Pudding Croquettes Topped With Whipped Cream and Cinnamon

So how did they taste? Pretty much like rice pudding with a graham cracker crust! They were flavorful and enjoyable both warm and cold. My wife liked them warm the best and my wonderful 6 year old son who hadn’t ever tasted rice pudding before also paid me a compliment – he told me his favorite part was the whipped cream from the can. I always tell him that it’s ok not to like all of daddy’s creations and that his honest opinions are helpful when writing my blog, but his kind little heart still always tries to say something nice anyway.

When all was said and done, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would ever make them again even though the recipe was successful. Despite tasting good, because they tasted like rice pudding, why not just make rice pudding instead and skip all of the extra steps needed to form them into croquettes? Perhaps if you had a rice pudding loving crowd, this would be a fun way to serve it and maybe even be a bit of a conversation starter. Even though it may not be a recipe that I go to often in the future, I do enjoy the fun and challenge of trying to create something new. Here is the recipe if you would like to give it a try!

Rice Pudding Croquettes

  • 1 cup rice (2 cups cooked)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Graham cracker crumbs to roll formed croquettes in

Prepare the rice as you normally would and then place the cooked rice in a medium pan and allow it to cool for a couple of minutes. Whisk 1 egg and 1 cup of milk together well until it becomes a bit foamy and add it to the pot with the cooked rice along with the butter, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, dissolve the corn starch in 1 tablespoon of milk and set aside.

Bring the the mixture slowly to a boil over medium heat and then lower the heat to simmer and continue to cook until the mixture begins to thicken. approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the corn starch to the pot and continue to heat over a medium heat for another 2 to 3 minutes – the mixture will become quite thick during this step.

Allow the rice mixture to cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Beat together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon of milk, form the rice mixture into croquettes approximately 2 inches in size, dip in egg and then graham cracker crumbs. When all the croquettes have been formed, sauté them in butter until they are golden brown on both sides and serve.

Now I’ll punt the croquette over to Karen to see how her second round went!

First let me say that Ray’s use of microwave rice in round one was totally cheating! Although I don’t suppose we made an official agreement about this, I do take into consideration what Grandma might have had or not had at her disposal when making these recipes. For round two though, there are no limitations. I know Ray won’t agree with me, but for the purposes of this blog, I am getting the last word in this week!

Reading the first sentence of Ray’s entry this week made me a little bit nervous! You see, I ended up going in the direction he first mentions. I made Loaded Rice Croquettes. He had me sweating there. I felt like he had hinted that he was going sweet, so I knew the savory lane should be wide open to me. There were many directions I could go in, but to be honest this was a busy week in our household and I didn’t know what I was going to do until last night. My youngest son graduated from high school yesterday, and the round two croquettes kept getting pushed to the back burner. We had our first meal out last night since the beginning of the pandemic and as I was sampling my husband’s truly wonderful rosemary garlic mashed potatoes, it instantly came to me what to make. There isn’t rosemary or garlic in the croquettes I made, but it solidified in my mind to use what I already had in my kitchen and that a loaded baked potato would be my starting point.

My approach was determined last week after so much work and the disaster zone that was my kitchen. I had already decided that my trusty rice cooker would get utilized and that my air fryer feature on my new range would come into play, especially after the fried food scents from last week lingered in the air much too long.

Air Fryer Loaded Rice Croquettes

  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP chopped garlic chives
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup bacon bits
  • 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 eggs
  • all purpose flour
  • breadcrumbs
  • neutral oil spray

Cook rice per your usual method. 1 cup of rice plus 2 cups of water will yield 3 cups of cooked rice. Dice butter into smaller pieces and add to rice while still warm. Stir to evenly distribute butter. Let rice cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes. At this point season rice with salt and pepper to taste. Add chives, bacon bits and shredded cheese to evenly distribute. Beat 2 eggs and mix into rice mixture. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes in order to make croquettes easier to form. Meanwhile, set up station for making croquettes. A plate of flour, a bowl with the remaining 2 eggs (beaten) and a plate of breadcrumbs. Once rice mixture is cooled, form into balls the size of a billiard ball, roll with flour, dip into beaten egg mixture then roll with breadcrumbs. Spray with oil and air fry at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes or until center reads 160 degrees.

This was served with a simple crema created by combining 1/4 cup of sour cream with salt and pepper to taste and adding 1 tsp of water and mixing to create a dipping sauce consistency.

Here are my thoughts on this dish… It was pretty good and not difficult at all! My focus group (family) liked them! I think I could easily add more cheese or even different types of cheese and I might have been just a touch shy with the oil sprayer, but overall, I’m quite pleased with this dish and will definitely be making/tweaking more in the future. This was my first time using the air fryer feature on my range, but won’t be my last. Besides being easier and tasting better than last week’s adventure, the kitchen was not a disaster when I finished which may be the best thing of all!

Loaded Rice Croquette with Sour Cream Crema

From Angie’s Kitchen – Rice Croquettes

Ray and I realized that so far all we have tried making from Grandma Angie’s recipe book have been sweets, so this week we decided to change it up a bit and try something savory. Rice croquettes seemed to fit the bill nicely. Now when I think of a rice croquette, I think of arancini. I had heard of them for years before I actually got the opportunity to try one. The one and only time I have eaten one was at Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria at Epcot. It was delicious. Most recently, I watched Stanley Tucci stand on a ferry in Sicily with one the size of his fist on his television program Searching for Italy and it made me hungry. Would this recipe fulfill that yen for arancini or at least become the foundation upon which a tasty treat could be built? Let’s find out.

On first glance, this recipe appears to have much more clarity than the previous recipes we have attempted. On second glance, it isn’t crystal clear. I think the thing that threw me off was the instructions for the rice which admittedly is the most important part. “Wash and boil the rice for 30 minutes, drain and put on top of double boiler.” This isn’t anything like the way I prepare rice, but who am I to second guess? Tom thought I should make the rice as I usually do, but I don’t need to drain rice when prepared per usual. What did it mean? I felt for sure that it didn’t mean to prepare the rice as I ended up doing which was to rinse the rice, cover it with much more water that usual, and literally drain the excess water from the rice.

On the next step I hesitated again. “… put in top of double boiler. Add one egg beaten with two tablespoons of milk, salt, sugar, butter and parsley, cook until egg thickens.” I wondered if the rice shouldn’t be cooled a bit. Could the eggs hit the hot rice and make scrambled eggs? So, I cooled the rice for about 5 minutes and proceeded. I didn’t make scrambled eggs, but I am not sure I left the mixture in the double boiler long enough either because when it came time to make the croquettes, the rice mixture was much too loose. Well, there was not much else to do about it other than to soldier on and try finishing the recipe. I’ll admit that I cringed each time I tried to dip a “croquette” into a beaten egg and felt it disintegrate in my hands. Still, I was knee deep in this recipe and managed to get each one over to the bread crumbs and ready to fry. I fried the “croquettes” in batches of three or four. I think my oil was a bit too hot on the first batch, but I had some hope. For the second batch, the oil seemed to be just right and I actually produce three decent looking croquettes. By the third batch, I think my oil had possibly cooled too much, that batch was just not good. The “croquettes” had trouble keeping any form at all.

So, how did they taste? The taste wasn’t a favorite in this household. Tom had suspected that we wouldn’t care for the taste when he saw the sugar in the recipe and I’ll have to admit that he was correct. They weren’t a food that you would spit out in disgust, but they weren’t good enough to want to finish eating either.

Do they have potential? Yes I would say potential is there, but this recipe was a busy one. I even got a text from Ray during round one commenting that “This is much more labor-intensive than I bargained for!” I can’t speak for Ray, but my kitchen looked like a bomb had struck! So for round two, I plan to tweak the flavorings a bit (or maybe a lot) and plan to work smarter not harder.

The 3 “Good Croquettes”

So now I’ll turn it over to Ray to share his experience in this week’s From Angie’s Kitchen.

Karen and I take turns choosing which Grandma Angie recipe to make each time we do one of these posts.  We did agree that we would give something savory a try, but this round was her pick. When she told me her choice I gave the recipe a quick glance and commented to her that this one looked like it was more complete than others on both the ingredient amounts and procedure.  That was the end of our discussion though because as you know, we don’t discuss the details of Grandma’s recipes, how to interpret them or how we intend to approach them before we each try making them for the first time. 

I still stand by my first thought that it was more complete than some of the other recipes we’ve tried. Unfortunately, I allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security by that thought and dove into the recipe without thinking much about it in advance.  While the directions were more detailed, there was still some guesswork and room for interpretation required and I found myself having to do a bit of thinking on my feet as I went along.

Angie’s Original Recipe

I didn’t grapple with how to prepare the rice like Karen did. Instead, I opted to prepare it in the manner that I usually do… I went to the freezer, pulled out a bag of steamfresh rice, threw it in the microwave and voila! I had the two cups of cooked rice I needed in 4 minutes. Do I feel bad about this choice? Not at all!! In Grandma Angie’s kitchen we may be cooking recipes from the 1920s, but that doesn’t mean I won’t use a modern shortcut with some of the ingredients when possible.

My grandma would have been right there with me too – she was a very modern thinker for her time. She loved her kitchen gadgets, recipes of all kinds and most definitely was a fan of the newest inventions to come along. If there had been microwaves and steamfresh rice in the 1920s, she would have been all about using them for her rice croquettes. Hell, she became such close friends with her microwave that she simply referred to it as the micro!

Rice cooking methods aside, I too wrestled a bit with the double boiler portion of the program. I also decided that waiting for the rice to cool before adding the egg was the best idea. Karen mentioned that perhaps she didn’t cook it long enough before moving on – I hung in there until it became more sticky thinking this would help me with forming them, but it took a long long time. I was at it for more than 25 minutes! It was at this point, knowing that I still had to form them, dip them in egg, roll them in breadcrumbs and fry them, that I sent Karen the text she mentioned above! In addition to the longer cooking period, I also let the rice cool a second time after it came off of the double boiler since cooler rice also tends to be a bit more sticky.

On to the forming of the croquettes. I found that the extra cooking time and second cooling did help the rice hold together fairly well and survived the dip in the egg and the breadcrumbs. I also found that I did better by forming the rice into balls first and them flattening them out after rolling them in the breadcrumbs. Finally, it was time to fry them – when I was done I surveyed the 6 golden brown croquettes on the plate with a smile.

Then I turned away from the stove and faced the rest of the kitchen and my smile was quickly erased when I saw that the same bomb that had gone off in Karen’s kitchen had also gone off in mine! Naturally the next thought that came into my head was “after almost 90 minutes of work that somehow resulted in my kitchen being replaced with a small disaster, all I have to show for it are these 6 little croquettes?!?” It also made me even happier that I saved 30 minutes of work with the microwave rice – I needed that extra time and then some to clean up!

As for the taste test, in our house we actually enjoyed them and didn’t mind the bit of sugar. There was enough to give it a pleasant sweetness without being overpowering or tasting like a piece of candy. I enjoyed them enough that rather than trying to tweak the recipe for round two, I am going to try something very different. The idea actually came to mind because of the sugar in the recipe – prior to making and tasting them, I had very different ideas on what I might do next. Admittedly, the direction I plan to head in may be a bit odd or unconventional – how will it all turn out? Check back next week!