Saturday, June 25, 2016

Safeway Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake by Margaret Ullrich

I notice that the post for Eaton’s original Red Velvet Cake is currently among the top posts, both for the week and the month.
I posted that recipe in January, 2014.
It’s a sentimental favourite for anyone who remembers Eaton’s Department Store in all its retail glory.

Eaton’s was the place that gave us a bit of warmth every winter, when the staff would “Uncrate the Sun”.
In the midst of a -40º C Canadian winter, we could escape to exotic places like Mexico and Spain for a week without boarding a plane.

Eaton’s, founded in 1869, was a department store chain that strove to be the perfect department store.
It lived by the slogan "Goods Satisfactory or Money Refunded.”
There you could find everything needed or wanted by every member of your family, including pets, and for every room of your home, including your yard and garden.
Eaton's had it all: furniture, appliances, clothes, food, books, toys, tulip bulbs.
You name it, Eaton’s had it, either on its floors or in its catalogue.
Unfortunately Eaton’s didn’t survive long into the twenty-first century.
And people still miss it.

We recently lost another store that we once thought was as permanent as the wide prairie sky - Canada Safeway Limited.
American Safeway Inc. started its Canadian subdivision with nine stores in 1929.
For almost 85 years Safeway was a major grocery chain, especially on the prairies.
It was sold on June 12, 2013 to Canada's second-largest supermarket chain, Sobeys.
And people still miss it.

Safeway, under Sobeys ownership, carries groceries, in a way.
It once could be counted on to have practically any food item you could want.
Since Sobeys took over the inventory has been changing.
Where we used to find staples such as margarine, Sobeys is now stocking bottled carbonated and non carbonated drinks.
Frozen vegetables have been replaced by frozen fried potatoes in an amazing assortment of shapes and sizes. 
French fries instead of broccoli - not exactly what moms want to serve their families.

Safeway's milk products, under the brand name Lucerne, was a mainstay.
Milk, ice cream, sour cream, yogurt, cheeses of all kinds - everyone knew that Safeway would have it.
Now, thanks to Sobeys love of bottled drinks, there isn’t room on the shelves for the items we once took for granted.

About the milk… Safeway also carried instant skim milk powder in family-sized containers, a real boon for the budget.
It seems Sobeys is trying to wean the west by selling smaller bags of milk powder.
Along with the loss in savings, we lost some old favourite recipes which had been printed on the bags.

You know how it is with recipes on packages - you just take for granted that it will always be there.
A neighbour was saying how much her family missed Safeway’s coffee cake.
She wasn’t talking about anything from the store’s bakery department.
There had been a nice simple recipe on the back of the milk powder bag.
Luckily I had a copy of the recipe.
And now so do my neighbour and you.


Don’t have walnuts? Chopped pecans or almonds also work in the recipe.

Ma also had a recipe for a coffee cake:
Don’t usually have sour cream in your fridge?
Then Safeway’s recipe is the recipe for you!

                        Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

For the Cinnamon Swirl
Place in a small microwave-safe bowl
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
Stir in and mix until blended
1/3 Cup packed brown sugar
1/3 Cup finely chopped walnuts
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon flour
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Set aside.

For the Cake
Preheat oven to 375º
Grease an 8 inch square baking pan

Place in a large bowl
2 1/4  Cups flour
3/4 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup instant skim milk powder
Stir together.

1/3 Cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 Cup water
Stir until combined. The batter will be lumpy.
Spoon half the batter into the greased 8 inch square baking pan.
Sprinkle half the cinnamon swirl over the top of the batter.
Spoon remaining batter evenly over the cinnamon mixture.
Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon swirl over the batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is well browned.
A toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Anna Sultana’s Baked Penne with Cauliflower, The Strawberry Moon and The Summer Solstice

Sometimes a meal’s menu is based on cravings.
You know… you’re in the mood to have something.
No logical reason, just in the mood to eat it… Now.

And sometimes a menu is based on what’s in season.
Something, usually a vegetable, is available in large quantities and at a great price.
Saving a bit of grocery money is a very logical reason.
It’s always good to set a bit aside for upcoming holiday meals.

But sometimes logical reason gets trumped by illogical reason.
Case in point… Cauliflower was selling for a good price.
So, impressed by the price, I picked up one.
Then illogical reason came into play.
Paul reminded me that he doesn’t like cauliflower.
He loves broccoli, hates cauliflower.
Go figure.

Okay… Ma had faced a few meal planning problems in her day.
One of her solutions was to hide the problem ingredient, usually in a soup or stew. 
I mean, who pokes through all the bits in a tasty bowl of soup or plate of stew.

Another trick was to hide the problem in a baked favourite, such as Imqarrun il-forn.
Ma's Imqarrun il-forn is basically Timpana without the crust.
When Ma was in a rush, she would skip adding the crust.
And, if she was trying to use something, she would add it.

Back to the cauliflower…
It can be roasted, boiled, fried, steamed, pickled or eaten raw. 
The florets should be broken into similar-sized pieces so they cook evenly. 
Eight minutes of steaming, or five minutes of boiling, gives you soft florets. 
Try not to disturb them when they are cooking as stirring can break the florets into uneven pieces.
The leaves are edible, but usually people toss them.

Cauliflower is very bland, so have fun with your favourite spices.

Low carbohydrate dieters can use cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes or rice.
Cauliflower can also be sliced a quarter-inch, such as a steak, lightly coated with olive oil, and broiled; or fried in a hot oiled heavy iron pan.
Serve with a good cheese sauce and your vegetarian friends will love you.

Cauliflower trivia…
Like certain legumes, including chickpeas, it can be turned into a flour for making pizza or biscuits.

Cauliflower has distinct fractal dimension, about 2.8.
One of the fractal properties of cauliflower is that every branch, or "module", is similar to the entire cauliflower. The angle between "modules," as they become more distant from the center, is 360 degrees divided by the golden ratio.
I know, who comes up with these things?


This recipe can be made hours, even a day, in advance.

About the macaroni…
Usually Ma used penne, rigatoni or ziti.
In a pinch, elbow.
You want something that can survive baking. 
Spaghetti would form a brick.
Not a good thing.

If you like a stronger tomato flavour, add a can of tomato paste.
You can also add a large can of plum tomatoes, undrained.

The cheese / bread crumb topping is optional.
If you like it and have time, do it.
If you don't, then don't.

                        Baked Penne with Cauliflower

Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan or two 8 inch square pans

In a dutch oven pour
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 pound cauliflower florets 
Fry until lightly browned.
Remove the vegetables from the pot.

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
Cook for about 3 minutes.
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Cup chicken or beef stock or wine
Stir in the cooked vegetables.
Simmer for 15 minutes.
Season with
salt and pepper to taste.

While the sauce is being prepared, in a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
1 pound penne 
Cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
You want it to be a bit firm, al dente
Drain the pasta well and stir it into the sauce in the dutch oven.

4 large eggs
Mix them into the sauced pasta.
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Stir everything together.
Pour into the prepared pan or pans.

Combine in a small bowl
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/4 Cup dry bread crumbs
Sprinkle over the top of the pasta.

At this point you can refrigerate for several hours, covered.
Preheat oven to 350º        
Place the pan, uncovered, in the preheated oven.
Bake the 9 x 13 inch pan for about 45 minutes; 
the two 8 inch square pans for about 30 minutes.

You want to see a few burnt spots.
Then you know it's perfect, a la Maltese style.

About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac

June 20: Full Moon at 7:02AM - The visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. See a video about June's Full Strawberry Moon. The Summer Solstice arrives at 6:34PM EDT. This is when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the celestial equator. Summer is officially here.

June 21: The Sun rises and sets the slowest right before and after a solstice. The quickest sunrises and sunsets are during the equinoxes. This holds true in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

June 27: Last Quarter Moon at 2:19PM. In this phase, the Moon appears as a half Moon. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing, heading toward the New Moon phase. 
Tonight’s sunset is the latest in 2016.