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Mary’s Memo – February 10th

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!


My generation has seen more changes than any other but there’s still something that hasn’t changed and that’s the little conversation hearts available between New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day. The Necco Company based in Revere, MA manufacturers eight billion of them year round under the name Sweethearts. Granted, the sayings on the candy are contemporary and there are new flavors like green apple and blue raspberry in this year’s bag, tastes I don’t recall from my childhood.

GET SLIMMER WITH DINNER


Families that eat together without the television on and stay seated until everyone has finished have children with lower weights and body mass indexes (BMIs), a recent study reported. In fact, eating anywhere other than the kitchen or dining room was related to higher body mass index in both parents and children, says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, a co-author of the study. Wansink’s team compared BMIs and family rituals of 190 parents and 148 children, and concluded that strong, positive socialization during family dinners might override a child’s desire to overeat.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, February 2014.

AVOID BOREDOM BY BAKING


There were days in January when I couldn’t leave the house and one of the things I did was test this week’s Buttermilk Drop Biscuit recipe. Original recipe said it made 7 biscuits and they were huge! Not only that, one biscuit had 273 calories including 125 from fat. Although I love biscuits, I thought they should be smaller so I made a dozen the second time and they were big enough. I also baked them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment instead of a cast iron biscuit pan (didn’t know there was such a pan) or oven-proof cast iron skillet or griddle. Done my way, they are still light and fluffy and reheat beautifully. It’s a good way to use leftover buttermilk, a problem some of you have mentioned to me.

BUTTERMILK DROP BISCUITS


• 2 cups unsifted, all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
• 1-1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Cut cold butter into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fork and knife method. The mixture should have a course crumb consistency. Process goes faster if butter is cut into several chunks. Pour in the buttermilk and stir just until everything is blended. Do not over-mix. Using an ice cream scoop, drop dough onto prepared cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden and cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Recipe makes 1 dozen biscuits. Serve with your favorite jelly or jam or use for shortcake or a base for creamed tuna, chicken, dried beef, etc. Recipe makes 1 dozen biscuits. Leftovers
are freezable.

SPOTLIGHT ON CLEMENTINES


This is the peak season for the clementine, a member of the tangerine family. They’re thin-skinned and usually seedless. For Valentine’s Day make a Chocolate Clementine Cake for family and friends.

CHOCOLATE CLEMENTINE CAKE


• 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 cup butter, cut into pieces
• 7 large eggs, separated
• 1 cup sugar, divided
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons grated clementine zest (about 2 clementines)
• 2 medium clementines, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 3 tablespoons Triple Sec orange liqueur
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• Possible garnishes: Hot Fudge Sauce, sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch springform pan; line bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour parchment, removing excess flour; set aside. Stir together chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Beat egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer until pale and thick. Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until blended, stopping to scrape down sides. Stir in zest, chopped clementines, membrane removed, and orange liqueur. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl at medium-high speed until foamy. Add salt and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; repeat. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake in 350ºF oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch. (Cracks will form on top of cake.) Remove cake to a wire rack. Use a sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen.  Cool slightly. Remove sides of springform pan. Invert cake onto serving plate and remove springform bottom and parchment paper. Serve warm with one of the suggested toppings. Recipe makes 12 to 16 servings.
Note: If you prefer, replace liqueur with orange juice.

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