Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mother/Daughter~in~Love & Nandy Day

Wednesday Menu:

Main Dish Gravy
With Buttered Garlic Toast
Ricotta Cheese Cake
Iced Tea

I was browsing through Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking and came across an idea I used for lunch. I was in a hurry so I didn’t follow the recipe but look forward to trying it. I will share what I did and the actual one out of the book.

Some time ago, my M-I-Love shared with me one way she and Grandmother Willoughby (HER MIL) made meals stretch sometimes. She either called it Cheese Rarebit or Cheese Rabbit and I guess no one can say where such strange names came from. She told me to take a stick of butter and mix it in a skillet with ½ cup of flour until totally blended and bubbly and to add milk until it was creamy and just the thickness I wanted. Then, she said to add shredded cheese and Worcestershire sauce and serve over hot toast.
I wondered how in the world cold butter and dry flour would ever mix but somehow they do. Just a little heat and pressing the butter through the flour with a fork until it is smooth actually works.

Since that first time, I have made similar things in various ways and all have turned out good and well loved.

This day, I used the same process I just shared with the butter, flour, eventually the milk and I turned the heat off when it was starting to thicken. This can happen fast so I try to stay right there on it with my whisk.
When it was a smooth, white gravy, I added a little more than ½ cup of sharp shredded cheese and let it stir until melted. Now, this is the part I’ve never done… I followed the idea from the book and added a can of stewed tomatoes after I gave them a whir in the food processor!
We eat tomato gravy around here and we eat the cheese rabbit/rarebit but they are delicious combined!

As soon as the toast popped up, I rubbed peeled, fresh garlic cloves over them and spooned the gravy over the toast. Lastly, I added a sprinkle of shredded cheese.
Brandy had the idea to use this like a fondue and cut toast up in squares so we dipped hot toast in and it was delicious! We are looking forward to trying this again in a fondue pot.

Okay, onto the “real” recipe:

Tomato Rabbit

2 T. butter
3 T. flour
¾ cup milk
1 cup grated sharp cheese, ¼ lb (a lot of the older cookbooks say 1 cup of cheese equals ¼ lb. but 1 lb. is 16 oz. and 1 cup is 8 oz. Why isn’t it considered ½ lb? Maybe something to do with being shredded)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ cup canned or fresh tomatoes, pureed
5 slices buttered toast
5 slices pan-broiled bacon

Melt butter in top of a double boiler over boiling water. *Quick note* If you don’t have an actual double boiler set or top piece, one is easily made. Just use a sauce pan for the boiling water and put a sauce pan on top of that making sure the boiling water isn’t able to come into the top sauce pan. Blend in flour and stir constantly while adding milk, then continue to stir until sauce thickens. Stir in grated cheese, sugar, salt, cover and allow cheese to melt, stirring occasionally. Add pureed tomatoes gradually , stirring to mix well. Serve immediately on hot buttered toast. (Please do. We were feeding children and ours sat a few minutes and got too soft.) Garnish with crisp bacon. 5 Servings.

“It isn't only fictional heroes to whom toast means home and comfort. It is related of the Duke of Wellington - I believe by Lord Ellesmere - that when he landed at Dover in 1814, after six years' absence from England, the first order he gave at the Ship Inn was for an unlimited supply of buttered toast.”Elizabeth David, 'English Bread and Yeast Cookery’ (1977)

Ricotta Cheese Cake
Yields: 24 servings

1 (18.25 ounce) package
yellow cake mix
24 ounces ricotta cheese
3/4 cup white sugar 3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup confectioners' sugar for

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.
2. Make yellow cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter into the greased 9x13 inch pan.
3. Mix together the ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract and spoon over cake batter.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 45 minutes. Sprinkle cake with confectioners' sugar when cool.

This cake was okay but I don’t plan to make it again. It called for at least one stick of butter, a total of six eggs, and an entire tub of ricotta cheese. I expected it to be more grand. If someone desires to make this, I heartily suggest lots of powdered sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top!

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