Cook’s Corner

Found: Winning graham cake

 

Dessert

Pepe’s Coconut Bread

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons coconut extract

2 cups sour cream

1 cup shredded coconut

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Cream together butter and sugar until sugar granules have dissolved. Beat in eggs and extract, then sour cream. Add the coconut . Stir together the flour, baking soda and baking powder and beat into the batter just until mixed.

Spoon into lightly greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 1 loaf, 12 servings.

Per serving: 309 calories (49 percent from fat), 17.2 g fat (10.8 g saturated, 4 g monounsaturated), 68 mg cholesterol, 4.1 g protein, 35.6 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g fiber, 225 mg sodium.

Source: Adapted for Cook’s Corner by Linda Cicero from a recipe by Pepe’s Key West.


Dessert

Nutty Graham Picnic Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (14 squares) finely crushed graham crackers or graham cracker crumbs

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup margarine or butter, softened

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

3 eggs

1 1/4 cup chopped nuts, divided

2 tablespoons brown sugar

5 teaspoons whole milk

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube cake pan or 10-inch tube pan. In large bowl, combine all cake ingredients except nuts; beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in 1 cup nuts. Pour batter into greased and floured pan.

Bake 40 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool upright in pan 15 minutes; invert onto serving plate. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled.

In small saucepan, combine brown sugar, milk and butter; cook over low heat just until sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar; blend until smooth. Drizzle over cake; sprinkle with remaining chopped nuts. Makes 16 servings.

Per serving: 390 calories (46 percent from fat), 20 g fat (3 g saturdated), 40 mg cholesterol, 5 g protein, 47 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 440 mg sodium.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero for Cook’s Corner from a Pillsbury Bake-Off recipe.


Condiment

Ranch Seasoning Mix

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons dried minced onion

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

2 1/2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

In a small bowl, combine first 7 ingredients (makes enough for 6 batches of ranch; store leftover mix in an airtight container up to a year).

To prepare salad dressing: In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon mix with mayonnaise and buttermilk; refrigerate. Makes 2 cups, 16 servings.

To prepare dip: In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon mix and sour cream; refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 1 cup. 8 servings.

Per serving: 260 calories (89 percent from fat), 26 g fat (6.4 g saturated, 6 g monounsaturated), 27 mg cholesterol, 2.3 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g fiber, 801 mg sodium.

Source: Taste of Home magazine


Q: I am trying to find a recipe my mom made years ago that she found on the back of graham cracker boxes. I don’t remember the name and neither does my mom. I am 49 so it was probably at least 35 years ago. It was made in a Bundt pan and had a glaze on it. I remember it being very moist but dense also. I am saving recipes for my granddaughter that are from my childhood and dear to my heart. Thank you for any help in finding this recipe.

Vicki Foster

A: I think this may be the recipe you remember, though of course there are many variations on the theme. Some recipes call for graham cracker crumbs alone, but I find the addition of flour lightens it up. The recipe dates to 1978, when Esther Tomich of San Pedro, Calif., won the $25,000 Grand Prize at the Pillsbury Bake-Off. You can fold in chocolate chips or dried fruit, or some lemon or orange rind for a change of taste, and I’ve sampled a s’more version somewhere that had toasted marshmallows and melted chocolate bars for the topping.

Trivia: Graham crackers are so named because the whole wheat kernel flour they are made from was espoused by a fiery temperance preacher, Rev. Sylvester Graham, who in the 1830s crusaded for food and drink without stimulants that would “enflame the blood.” He thought all baking should be with graham flour, which he believed to be nutritionally superior.

Reader responses Top 10

I asked readers to write about their own favorite recipes from Cook’s Corner after I listed 10 I cook often from the 30-plus years I’ve been writing the column. Better Than Sex Cake and The Unicorn’s miso dressing are battling for top spot. “My mother loves to tell the story of how she used to mix it with my spinach baby food to get me to eat,” Tania T. wrote of the dressing.

Laura added, “Just wanted to take a moment and say thank you. Reading all the names of the restaurants that are no longer and the recipes was so much fun. I still miss the original Unicorn and Tu Tu Tango in Coconut Grove. I can picture them as much as I can picture the days when restaurants offered freshly made Caesar salads that were whipped up tableside. Ahhhhh!”

Pat Smith, a fellow Mizzou alum, said, “I must have at least 5 of (your favorites) clipped for reference! Some of my other faves include Moroccan Chicken Smothered in Green Olives that you reprinted from Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Cooking; Penne alla Caprese; your various “dump” cakes; Cami’s Seashells Linguine with Shrimp; Pepe’s Coconut Bread that I make for holiday gifts; Afternoon Tea Bakeshop’s Apple Cranberry Pie and Joe’s Stone Crab Ginger Salmon! Just writing this brings back fond memories!”

I’m going to cook my way through the list of reader favorites and will print some of the recipes in weeks to come. (If you can’t wait, just email me and I’ll send the recipe from our archives). Last weekend I couldn’t resist making Pepe’s coconut bread, which I remembered was fantastic toasted. My memory didn’t fail. The bread is simple but delicious. We scored the recipe from Pepe’s — a fixture in Key West since 1909, still serving the bread — in 1992.

Ranch Mix

Taste of Home magazine has put together a list of recipes for popular homemade pantry staples like the ranch dressing mix here, which you can use to make either a dressing or a dip.

You can find more mixes and condiments at tasteofhome.com.

Sleuth’s Corner

Q: My favorite thing in Cook’s Corner is when readers ask for help finding a recipe for something their mom or grandmother made, and I finally have gotten around to asking if anyone can help me find a recipe for a kale soup my late Portuguese mother-in-law made.

I remember her complaining when she had to use spinach instead of kale because she couldn’t find it in the markets (this was in the ’80s). She’d be amazed to see how kale has been rediscovered by the foodies!

She simply called it green soup, and it usually had potatoes and I think chorizo and hot peppers. I’d love to make it for my husband.

Anna P.

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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