Wednesday, January 7, 2009

chicken fried steak, potatoes, gravy, carrot cake with cream cheese

Perhaps we have some chefs here? I am a person of many interests, and I really love to cook. Since I am still re-arranging my bedroom and painting the kitchen, it will be a bit before I get some more “house” pictures up. So, I thought I would post up something about cooking.
A friend of ours had a birthday on Sunday. Tonight, we will be helping Bryan celebrate his birthday. I decided to go “homestyle” and not do anything too fancy. Doesn't everyone love chicken fried steak? I think white gravy should be it's own food group. For dessert, a cake equally as “homestyle,” a yummy carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. All very simple dishes, but very tasty, so I will share some recipes with you.

Chicken Fried Steak
I use a round steak. It is sort of fun to smack the crap out of it with a mallet. It is also fun for kids to give it a good whack or two.
Whisk together ¼ milk and an egg. (Depending on how many you are making, you can double or triple this amount).
Mix ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp white pepper, and ¼ tsp paprika.
Sprinkle the salt and pepper mixture over the steaks. Dredge the steaks in flour. Dip both sides of steaks in the egg and milk mixture. Dredge again in flour.
In a cast iron skillet, pour in enough cooking oil to fill the pan about a half inch deep. Bring it up to a medium heat. (Test it by throwing in a drop of water. It should give a good pop/hiss.)
Carefully put in the steak. (Stand back and use a big fork!) Brown on each side. Then cover and let it cook through (about 5 minutes, depending on how thick your steaks are. I use a ¼ thick ones). Put steak on a paper towel to de-grease a bit.

Mashed Potatoes and Country Gravy
Nothing is more simple to make than mashed potatoes. Instead of milk, I use heavy cream and lots of butter, and mash all together with a hand-masher. You will need drippings from the steak to liven up that gravy. Yum! Just dump out your skillet, leaving a couple tablespoons of the oil still in it (and leave all the chunky brown crusties). Add 3 TBSP flour and brown the flour. Stir in 1 cup of milk. Keep mixing to remove lumps. Too thick? Add milk. Too think? Add flour. Add a pink of salt and pepper.

Carrot Cake
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted plus more for pans
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 cup (3 ounces) pecan halves
1 pound large carrots, peeled
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray Pam Baking spray on 2 8” pans.
Spread pecans in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan, and toast in oven about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Finely chop pecans and set aside.
Finely grate carrots, until you have 2 1/2 cups.
Mix carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, and ginger in a large bowl.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined.
Fold in the butter and toasted pecans.
Pour batter into the cake pans, and bake until about an hour (just test with a toothpick)
Remove pans from oven, cool on wire rack.
Assemble and frost cakes using cream cheese frosting.sembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill 3 to 4 hours.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
I like to grate a little orange zest on top and keep the cake simple. I'm really not one to pipe little carrots out all over the cake.

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