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Q. I lived in Miami from 1947 till 1992. I remember old Miami and some of the memory-making restaurants. One in particular was Robin Hood Inn on Biscayne at 36th Street. Only on special occasions would we get to eat there. The one thing that stands out in my mind were the drop-dead wonderful rum rolls. I would have at least three before the salads even came. Now that Robin Hood Inn is gone and I’m up here in Tennessee, I have really gotten into cooking and baking. I’ve tried a lot of different yeast rolls, but none have ever come close to the ones served there at Robin Hood Inn. I’m hoping that you might be able to find that recipe.
Honey Apple Cake
This cake can be baked one day ahead. The flavors just improve.
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, divided
3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee, cooled
3 Granny Smith apples, 2 peeled, cored and coarsely chopped, 1 sliced for topping
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch tube pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat sugar, oil and eggs until combined. Add 1 cup honey and beat until well blended. Add dry ingredients alternately with coffee, beating on low until combined. Stir in chopped apples by hand.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Toss sliced apples with remaining 2 tablespoons honey so they caramelize, and arrange on top of batter. Bake about 1 hour or until cake tests done. Let cool on rack 10 minutes. Carefully remove cake from pan and cool. Makes 12 servings.
Per serving: 358 calories (8 percent from fat), 3.5 g fat (06 g saturated, 07 g monounsaturated), 31 mg cholesterol, 5 g protein, 79 g carbohydrates, 2.2 g fiber, 270 mg sodium.
Rice Salad with Cranberries and Pecans
1/4 cup raw wild rice, rinsed
1/2 cup raw long-grain rice, rinsed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated orange or lemon zest
1/4 cup cranberry or apple juice
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
Freshly ground pepper
Cook rices separately according to package directions. Toss together and spread on a cookie sheet to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a bowl, and add cranberries, celery, onions, bell pepper and pecans.
Make a dressing by combining oil, vinegar, zest, cranberry juice and sugar. Pour over rice salad, toss well, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour for flavors to blend. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 394 calories (48 percent from fat), 22 g fat (2.3 g saturated, 13.4 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 5.5 protein, 47 g carbohydrates, 4.7 fiber, 22 mg sodium.
Spicy Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho
2 pounds ripe tomatoes (or 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained)
2 ears sweet corn, husks on
1 small red onion, peeled and halved
1 poblano pepper
2 red bell peppers
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup rinsed, finely chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup spicy-hot tomato juice (plus more as desired)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan. Score the bottom of each tomato with an X. Working in batches, place tomatoes in boiling water for 15 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath. Peel tomatoes starting at the point of the X. Seed and chop; set aside.
Pull husks back from corn and remove silk with damp paper towel. Place husks back around corn and soak in cold water about 15 minutes. Place corn, onion (cut-side down), poblano and bell peppers on a prepared charcoal or gas grill grate over high heat. Grill and turn corn until tender, about 8 minutes. Remove onion when nicely grill marked. Using tongs, turn peppers until skin is charred.
Place charred peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; set aside for about 10 minutes. Remove charred skin from peppers, rinse, stem, seed and chop. Carefully run knife down corn cob to remove kernels.
In a food processor, combine peppers, corn, onion and garlic. Process for a minute or two. Add tomatoes, cucumber, vanilla, vinegar, cumin and cilantro. Process to desired consistency. Pour mixture into a large bowl; add tomato juice; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill for 2 hours before serving. Makes 12 servings.
Per serving: 54 calories (8 percent from fat), 0.5 g fat (0 saturated, 0 monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 2 g protein, 11.7 g carbohydrates, 2.2 g fiber, 101 mg sodium.
Q. Some years ago, someone occasionally brought a rice salad to potluck events I attended. I’ve tried various recipes but never found one that tasted as good. It had tomatoes, raisins or dried cranberries, pine nuts, celery, maybe green peppers, and was in a lightly sweet vinaigrette. Do you have a favorite rice salad recipe to share?
I am quite fond of the rice salad recipe here. I believe it originated on a wild rice package, but I have altered it greatly over the years. I usually make it when I have leftover rice, whether white, wild, brown or a mixture as suggested in the recipe. To make it a main dish you can add cooked shrimp or chicken or chunks of blue or feta cheese. Feel free to add whatever fresh vegetables are in your refrigerator, such as sliced carrots or jicama or chunks of tomato. You could easily substitute pine nuts for the pecans or quinoa for the wild rice.
The honey cake recipe here is a play on the Rosh Hashana tradition of dipping of apples in honey to symbolize the start to a sweet new year. It comes from Golden Blossom Honey, a family-owned and -operated company that sources its blend of orange blossom, sage buckwheat and clover honey exclusively from American beekeepers.
As outlined in a recent Time magazine article, honeybees are dying off due to a mysterious malady called colony collapse. Among the factors at work: Pesticides and fungicides, climate change, disease-spreading mites and starvation, as more and more farmland is dedicated to commodity crops like wheat and corn that provide little pollen for foraging bees.
Tried and new
Nielsen-Massey, which has been making vanilla for more than 100 years, is now offering an organic fair-trade version: Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla ($11 for a 4-ounce bottle). Fair trade ensures that small-scale farmers in developing countries receive a fair price for their beans and use sustainable farming practices that protect the environment.
One of the company’s suggested uses for vanilla — a new one to me — is to cut acidity in savory dishes. With some skepticism, I tried the gazpacho recipe here, and found that the vanilla not only cut the acidity but seemed to intensify the flavors.
Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.
If your zucchini has turned zealous in the garden, here’s a wonderfully different way to use the bounty: A zucchini flatbread that surprised me with how easy it was to make.
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