Saturday, June 9, 2012

Angel Food Cake

Made this yummy angel food cake for a cookout at my brother and sister-in-law's house last weekend.  Yes, I did make it from scratch and NO, it's NOT difficult!  You can do this easily, so long as you are patient (but vigilant) as your eggs are being beaten.

The first problem I ran into when preparing to make this was not having the right pan.  Yes, you do need an angel food cake pan.  My internet research tells me that you should not use a non-stick pan, and you should use a flat bottomed angel food cake pan.  (Problem: I was planning to use my non-stick bunt pan with a fancy bottom.)  Luckily we have some great neighbors who let me borrow a pan!  Now that I know how easy it is to make angel food cake I need my own pan!

After recipe searching online, I decided to go with the recipe from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  I figured when it's such a classic recipe, an old-fashioned cookbook should have it right!  They have helpful pictures of of "soft peaks" and "stiff peaks" - which is important if  you're not already able to recognize the difference.  

If your pan does not have prongs for when it is cooling upside down, use a funnel to prevent the pan from being against your counter.  Our homemade funnels are the cut off tops of 2 liter bottles - works just as good!

The only thing that I did different was to add 1/2 tsp. of almond extract, as suggested by browneyedbaker.  I really like almond flavoring!  Recipe is as follows...

Angel Food Cake

• 1 1/2 cups egg whites (use 10-12 large eggs)
• 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
• 1 cup sifted cake flour or sifted all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 1 cup granulated sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Have ungreased 10-in tube pan ready.

2.  Separate egg whites into a very large mixing bowl and allow them to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, sift powdered sugar and flour together three times; set aside.

3. Add cream of tartar and vanilla to egg whites.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (Tips will curl if spatula is inserted and lifted.  See images here).
Gradually add granulated sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (Tips stand straight.  See images here)

4. Sift one-fourth of the powdered sugar mixture over beaten egg whites.  Fold in gently with a spatula.  Repeat powdered sugar mixture by fourths.  Pour into ungreased 10-inch tube pan.  Gently cut through batter to remove air pockets.  (Use a knife or icing spatula).

5. Bake on the lowest rack in a 350° oven for 40-45 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  Immediately invert cake;  cool thoroughly in pan (about 2 hours).  Loosen cake from pan by sliding a metal spatula or table knife between the cake and pan, pressing the spatula against the pan, so you don't cut the edges of the cake.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Upon request from hubby, chicken pot pie was our dinner yesterday.  Sometimes hubby requests things, and at dinner time he finds that they're not what he expected.  Knowing this, he gave specific things he was looking for in his chicken pot pie.  
Real pie shell, not a casserole.  Thick and creamy inside.
So I set out to look for something easy, probably with frozen mixed veggies and cream of chicken soup.  The recipe I ended up with includes neither of those things!

After checking some of the blogs I follow and trust, I still didn't have what I was looking for.  I moved on to google and clicked on a link to Taste of Home.  This recipe has excellent reviews, so I decided to go for it.  It was not difficult, but was a little time consuming.  Probably would have been a little less time consuming if I hadn't shattered a pie plate.  Really, shattered.  Good thing this yummy comfort food would be coming out of the oven an hour after that disaster.  I tend to burst into tears every time that I break something glass.   Yesterday marks the first time I have broken something glass in our house and NOT cried. Woo hoo!  Luckily I had 2 pyrex pie plates, so pictured below is the other one.
Okay, back to the food.

This chicken pot pie was excellent!  Nick said "Yes" to "Better than store bought?"  
After another minute of chowing down he said "Better than Costco."  I guess Costco doesn't fit into the same category as any other store?  According to Nick they have very good chicken pot pie... so if you're too busy (or lazy) to make this, you can buy it there.  But this is better than Costco, so it won't be as good.

This was my first time cutting something out of the top of a pie like that.  Do not make fun of my little hearts.  I was thinking nobody but Nick would see it, so it didn't matter.  As I put the pie in, I realized I was going to take pictures to blog.  Oh well!  Also, my crust was slightly overdone, as you can see, by the time I checked it at the minimum recommended cooking time (35 min).

This recipe makes two pies - save one in the freezer for a rainy day.  Or a busy day when you don't have time to make dinner :)

My suggestions: Use Yukon Gold potatoes.  Yum.  
And I added an extra half a cup of peas - changing the recipe from 1 cup peas to 1 1/2 cups of peas.
Use a flaky pie crust.  I used the one with the Cook's Illustrated Lattice-Top Peach Pie, which I blogged last year.  You can view it on my blog here.  This has been my go-to crust since making that pie.  Remember to double your pie crust recipe! 

Chicken Pot Pie
(Makes two 9-inch pies)
• 2 cups diced peeled potatoes (suggestion: Yukon Gold)
• 1 3/4 cups sliced carrots
• 2/3 cup chopped onion
• 1 cup butter, cubed
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 3/4 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. dried thyme
• 3/4 tsp. pepper
• 3 cups chicken broth
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• 4 cups cubed cooked chicken
• 1 1/2 cups frozen peas 
• 1 cup frozen corn
• Pastry for two double-crust pies (9 inches)

1.  Place potatoes and carrots in a large saucepan; cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat;  cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Drain and set aside.

2.  In a large skillet, saute onion in butter until tender (Yes, a whole cup of butter! Remember, this is your base for two pies).  Stir in flour, salt, thyme and pepper until blended.  Gradually stir in broth and milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Add the chicken, peas, corn, potatoes, and carrots; remove from heat.

3.  Line two 9-inch pie plates with bottom pastry shells.  Fill shells with chicken mixture.  Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pies.  Cut slits or decorative cutouts in pastry.  Place over filling; trim, seal, and flute edges.  

4.  Bake one pie at 425° for 35-40 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.  Let stand for 15 mintues before cutting.  Cover and freeze remaining pie for up to 3 months.

To use frozen pie: Shield frozen pie crust edges with foil; place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 425° for 30 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350°; bake 70-80 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown.