Cooking with Kay: Sometimes you have to slow down and cook

By Kay Harrod Published:

It seems a shame to waste this week’s gorgeous weather inside cooking. Perhaps it’s time to fire up the grill for a last hurrah or pull out the Crockpot early in the day and put in the ingredients for your evening meal.

But what if you had a weekend that was all yours – no commitments, no work – just thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’

That was the case of horticulturist and wedding designer Sharon Bale – no work on the U.K. farm and no weddings – after six months of having almost every Saturday committed to wedding celebrations.

On what turned out to be a most miserable day, Friday we headed to Keeneland. Pin Oak farm had offered Bale a couple of grandstand tickets at what I think is Kentucky’s premiere racetrack.

By the time we arrived, the rains began, but not to worry our seats were under cover. But no amount of cover protected us from the bone-chilling wind.

Half of our mission, however, was attainable – we wanted burgoo. If you can’t find someone who has been cooking some for at least 24 hours, the burgoo at Keene-

land is the next best thing.

Waving the white flag on our seats, we headed downstairs to find the warm soup. It took us several stops, reading menus and becoming more and more afraid it was not to be found, until we spied the right concession stand, undercover on the first floor facing the beginning of the paddock.

It was filled with large chunks of beef, potatoes, corn, peas, green beans, corn and yes, okra. It’s not the western Kentucky version with multiple meats or my grandfather’s that was made in a huge cast iron kettle over an open flame that fed the neighbors during the by-gone era of tobacco housing times.

The Keeneland burgoo did not disappoint. Its warmth revitalized us – somewhat – at least enough to give us the strength to head for our car.

There wasn’t any cornbread so be sure to ask for crackers – they are not automatically offered.

Now many of you will admit having a free Saturday would not find you in the kitchen. But Sharon began trying a new barbecue rib recipe Thursday and was determined we were going to eat it Saturday. Into the oven it went for its slow cook of at least eight hours and we settled into the den, with a dancing fire, to watch the first season of “Downton Abbey.”

Her recipe originally called for pork ribs, but she decided to try beef ribs instead. Fall off the bone; perfectly caramelized, deliciously seasoned ribs were brought forth from the oven when we took a break from our movie watching.

I regret Sharon has not given me the recipe yet – she’s trying to incorporate what she did with the original recipe. But I promise to make it available as soon as I get it. The ribs and a couple of make-ahead sides would be a wonderful evening meal for whatever you decide to do on a Saturday.

CHANGE IN RECIPE

Several weeks ago I provided a recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake (Spectrum, Sept. 19), which I have since made several times including Saturday night for dessert at Sharon’s house.

There was an error in the amount of flour and I have since made a few tweaks to the recipe I offered.

If you made it, you realize the batter was too thin. If you are keeping the recipe to make later, toss it and keep this one. Lastly, unless you have at least a 12-inch platter, when you first turn it out, you need more room. A round pizza pan seems best.

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE RE-DO

2 cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 eggs, room temperature

½ cup milk – at least 2 percent

¼ cup vegetable shortening

2 tablespoons pineapple juice

Half of a lemon zester

Lemon juice from a half lemon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare pineapple topping first.

1 stick butter

1 cup light or dark brown sugar

1 can 8-oz. crushed pineapple not drained

1 can 20-oz. pineapple slices, drained and reserve 2 tablespoons syrup

Maraschino cherries

In a 10-inch iron skillet or 9x12 baking pan, melt butter. Remove from heat source. (I usually just melt my butter was oven is warming.)

Stir in brown sugar until blended

Mix undrained crushed pineapple into butter/syrup.

Arrange pineapple slices in skillet.

Place a maraschino cherry in center of each pineapple.

Preparing cake.

Using a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, milk, and vegetable shortening; beat two minutes.

Add reserved two tablespoons pineapple syrup, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract; beat additional 2 minutes.

Pour cake batter over prepared pineapple slices in the skillet, spreading evenly.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes on a wire rack.

Now for the trick: I still recommend a plate with a rim that is larger than your skillet – about 12 inches. If you don’t have one, think about using a pizza pan. Normally any large plate would do, but this recipe produces a sauce that will run down the cake and off a flat plate.

HALLOWEEN EATING

It’s a week from today and perhaps while grocery shopping this weekend you may want to think about what those tikes are going to eat before or after their trick-or-treating.

My niece-in-law, Stacy Dearborn, made a Taco Lasagna recently while I was in northern Kentucky. At least that is what her boys have named it.

Many of you may have already made this by another name, but it is definitely a dish that can be quickly assembled to feed your starving brood beforehand or to have ready to pop in the oven when the night’s adventure is over.

The recipe fed the six of us easily and was definitely well-received by her boys – 7, 11, 15 – and me.

DEARBORN TACO LASAGNA

2 pounds ground beef

2 packets Taco seasoning mix

3 cups (at least) shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 package large soft tacos. Stacy uses the whole wheat ones and the boys never know the difference.

Preparation: Fry the ground beef in a skillet, drain and follow the directions on the Taco mix packets, doubling since you are adding two packets.

In a 9x13 casserole dish, overlap about three of the soft tacos. Spread a layer of the beef and some cheese. Repeat, ending with meat and cheese.

Put into a 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbling.

Serve with your favorite Taco accompaniments – all Eric, Evan and Eli wanted was some Taco sauce. Kenny, Stacy and I ate the chopped tomatoes, green onions and sour cream.

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