prune cake

Prune Cake Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Thanks To Prunes, The Wait Is Over

If you’ve made it this far into the recipe then you’re obviously open to prunes. I mean hey, they have a bad rap for being associated with senior folks… and for giving the gift of, ahem, “regularity.”

Regardless of prunes’ affiliation with the trots at least 4 generations of my family have loved knocks at bathroom humor even before it was vogue. So I’m not sure why it took me 8 years after recovering Mom’s cookbook to dive into this recipe just because of the word “prune;” I should have been drawn to it!

So in 2000 even though the FDA changed the name of prunes to “dried plums” which boosted sales I say bring on the prunes! They taste great no matter what they’re called and who doesn’t like a little regularity? Plus, it seems that California may have returned to their prune-y roots, making me want to just call this “prune-plumb cake” just to ensure I have all “loose ends” covered (pun intended).

A Prune By Any Other Name…

I smiled when I saw this came from the Fredericksburg cookbook of our family friend “Lela.” Fredericksburg, Texas holds a special place in the hearts of Texans and it’s where Texas-German charm and heritage runs as thick as our state’s love for silky queso. I had a gut instinct this cake had historical origins to our European roots and I was right! Whether it goes by spice cake, election cake or muster cake, this is a delightfully decadent and dense cake that tastes like a warm slice of sweet Christmas drizzled with butter.

What’s different about this cake is the twist of incorporating Texas pecans and vanilla, and commingling them with the fruity smash-up taste of prunes in both the cake and the icing! I think you’ll agree this cake will disappear in a jiffy!

I saw in a recent McCormick video (below): “It’s the recipes we pass on to the next generation that are the reason there’s really no flavor like home.” And I hope this recipe becomes a, ahem, “regular favorite” that hails from Fredericksburg, to Lela, to my Mom, to me, and now to you!

Foodie Tips

❤  You can enjoy prune cake tabletop warm or cold from the fridge… but my favorite is when it’s just a bit warmed from the toaster oven or the microwave.

❤  9″ x 13″ loaf pan? This threw me because I thought loaf pans were almost as tall as they were wide. A 9″ x 13″ pan is what I call a sheet cake pan. I’m wondering if I could make a couple of 5″ x 9″ loaf pan cakes out of this!

❤  Prunes’ super power? Fiber, sorbitol, and polyphenols. They act as antioxidants and help keep a clean house.

i. Time

Total prep: 1-2 hours (includes cooling the cake)

Prune Cake Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

ii. Ingredients

for the cake:
3 | cage free eggs, well beaten
1 ½ cups | sugar
1 cup | salad oil
1 teaspoon | soda
1 cup | buttermilk
1 teaspoon | cinnamon
1 teaspoon | ground cloves
1 teaspoon | allspice
1 teaspoon | nutmeg
1 cup | mashed prunes, cooked
1 cup | pecans, chopped
2 cups | flour
1 teaspoon | baking power

for the icing:
2 tablespoons | butter (my Grandmother insisted on “Falfurrias” brand butter)
1 cup | sugar
2 | cage free eggs
½ cup | sour cream
1 cup | chopped prunes
1 cup | more chopped pecans
1 teaspoon | vanilla
a pinch | salt

iii. What to do

1. In a medium bowl beat the eggs and add the sugar. Beat everything together.

Prune Cake Recipe

Now Forming: A Blowout

2. In a measuring cup add the soda into the buttermilk, making sure to leave plenty of room as the soda will cause carbon dioxide bubbles to form, so use a larger measuring cup to prevent a “blowout,” (shown).

3. Add the salad oil, the buttermilk mixture and the the rest of the cake ingredients and mix well.

4. Bake everything in your choice of a greased 9″ x 13″ cake pan or three greased 8-inch cake pans at 350°F for about 25 minutes. When done remove the cake from the oven and let it cool on a cooling rack, if you have one.

Prune Cake Icing

5. After the cake has cooled a bit you can jumpstart your icing! Cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs. Mix with the remaining icing ingredients, transfer into a medium pan and cook over medium-low or medium heat until thick. Spread on cooled cake.

Serves: About 20 (sheet cake style)

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

A Scan Of Mom's Prune Cake Recipe

A Scan Of Mom’s Prune Cake Recipe

 

Who is Lela?

When I was growing up Lela Swinny lived at 3006 Northridge in San Antonio just 2 doors around the corner from my family’s home at 2927 Trailend.

The Swinny family was a delightful bunch of folks and my family spent almost as much time at their house as our own so naturally “fooding” was a part of the times our two families shared.

American Revolution Bicentennial LogoMom’s dear friend “Lela” taught me many things ~ the joy of laughing, how to swim in their awesome pool, and how to cook a memorable breakfast treat called “Egg In A Nest,” which is also posted here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

True family fact: Back in the 1970s Lela was throwing out an old desk that caught my Mom’s eye. A coat of red paint later and it was a cornerstone in my brother Tim’s red white and blue bedroom (it was around the time of our Country’s Bicentennial celebration so red white and blue was hot). In the 1990s I painted the desk black and it’s the desk where I author this blog to this day, proving that Lela is still with us, heart and soul!

You’ll find a picture of Lela and me in the “old family photos” tab and you can search for her by name to connect with more of her spirited recipes.

Cheers to two great friends – Mom and Lela!



shrimp remoulade

A Shrimp Remoulade Recipe From Betty's Cook Nooklet’s applaud this remoulade

Prior to making this recipe, I didn’t know much about shrimp remoulade.

  • I couldn’t spell “remoulade” correctly.
  • Roots to France? No wonder I couldn’t spell it!
  • As a younger Patrick if a shrimp-like object was placed before me I would have run for the hills, arms in air. So making this recipe *and eating* the end result involved a bending of my typical seafood predispositions; I have found certain select seafood fare that I enjoy, although don’t tell that to my Tex-Mex and Italian foodie favorites.

foodie tips

❤  Shrimp tip! While stores may not be consistent in how they classify shrimp, when you’re at the seafood counter, there’s a method to the madness for how many shrimp typically come per pound (this is indicative of their size). Resources that will be helpful include the Certi-Fresh website, which gives great detail plus the Certi-Fresh Shrimp Sizing Guide you can print, and keep with your cookbooks (score!)… and the Farm to Table guide that provides some detail on larger-sized shrimp. Now you’ll be able to decipher shrimp-like code like PUD, P&D, U/15, and 61/70!

❤  While shrimp remoulade is technically an appetizer, you can enjoy it with a variety of sidekicks. I can squarely picture my Mom “Betty” eating these marinated shrimp straight off a Nabisco saltine cracker. Other accents can include a bed of tender greens, jasmine rice, toasted crostini or simply by fork (I’m guilty of by fork – it was that good).

i. ingredients

½ cup + 2 tablespoons | salad oil
¼ cup | mustard
3 tablespoons | vinegar
1 teaspoon | salt
¼ teaspoon | tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons | paprika
1  | egg, hard cooked, separated into yolk and white and chopped
½ cup | celery, minced
2 tablespoons | onion, grated
2 tablespoons | fresh parsley, snipped
2 tablespoons | green pepper, minced
1 pound | shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked (P&D&C)

A Shrimp Remoulade Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

ii. what to do

1. Beat the oil, mustard, vinegar, salt, Tabasco, paprika, and egg yolk with a rotary beater until thick.

2. Fold in the celery, onion, parsley, green pepper, and chopped egg white.

3. Stir in the cleaned and cooked shrimp.

4. Cover and chill in the fridge, stirring occasionally. I let my shrimp and remoulade mingle for about an hour.

Shrimply delicious!

Yields up to 4 servings, depending on the size of the shrimp and how you’re serving it (appetizer or main course).

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

Shrimp Remoulade Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A scan of Mom’s original Shrimp Remoulade recipe!

 

Let’s enjoy some vintage cracker commercials!

Who knows how many sleeves of crackers I’ve polished off in my lifetime. Now we can enjoy a nod to crackers throughout the years!


eggplant parmigiana

An Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Aubergine Supreme

Found on the same page of Mom’s cookbook as this savory pepper steak recipe is this eggplant parmigiana recipe.

We Americans often shorten words down to make them easier to pronounce:

    • When referring to cheese, “Parmigiana” (Italian origin) is shortened to simply “Parmesan”. But somehow saying “parmigiana” just makes anything made with it sound fancier … and tastier.
    • “Aubergine” (British English) is known as “Eggplant” this side of the big pond <– I’m pointing to Texas. I’d rather refer to my walls being the color of aubergine than eggplant. Any day, hands down.
    • Shaking My HeadWhen in Italy “Rome” is “Roma,” “Naples” is “Napoli” and “Florence” is Firenze.” On my first trip to Italy in 2006 I had a full on adult melt-down in the Naples train station when I thought we couldn’t purchase a ticket to Florence … only to discover a few minutes later that Firenze and Florence were the same city. Finger to forehead! Still shaking my head to this day.

While I’ve spent much of my recent adult life researching and traveling Italy, I look for ways to incorporate the Italian romance language into my everyday life as often as I can, so while the use of “eggplant parmigiana” would appear to be on the decline according to Google Ngram Viewer, I can assure you this dish will be making a repeat appearance in my kitchen … and more importantly in my belly. :)

This dish hails from southern Italy’s regions of Campania and Sicily. Layers of cheese and tomato sauce? Count me IN!

foodie tips ~

❤  While the debate over whether to salt (sweat) or not salt your eggplant rolls on, this recipe doesn’t call for it. Once your eggplant is layered between tomato and cheese, even the discriminating pallet shouldn’t notice any eggplant bitterness.

❤  Love eggplant? Check out more of Mom’s recipes here at Betty’s Cook Nook using the nav at left!

i. ingredients

2 tablespoons | unsalted butter (Falfurrias brand butter, per Betty’s Mom “Nanny” – she is my grandmother)
½ cup | onion, chopped
1 clove | garlic, crushed
1 pound | ground beef chuck
1 can (~1 pound 1 ounce) | Italian-style tomatoes, undrained
6 ounce can | tomato paste
2 teaspoons | dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon | dried basil leaves
1 ½ teaspoons | salt
¼ teaspoon | pepper
1 cup | water
1 tablespoon | brown sugar
1 large | eggplant (about 1 pound in size)
| cage free eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon | water
½ cup | dried bread crumbs
1 ¼ cups | parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup | salad oil (vegetable oil)
8 ounces | mozzarella cheese, grated

ii. what to do

1. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Sauté the onion, garlic and beef chuck until the meat is no longer red (about 5 minutes).

2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, brown sugar and the water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.

3. Let’s get the oven preheating to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ baking dish and set aside.

4. Wash the eggplant and leave the peel on. Cut the eggplant crosswise into slices about ½” thick and set aside.

5. In a pie plate, combine the eggs and 1 tablespoon more water; mix well.

6. Are you ready to bread? On a sheet of waxed paper, combine the bread crumbs with ½ cup of the parmesan cheese and mix well. Dip the eggplant slices into the egg mixture and coat well. Then dip into the breadcrumb mixture, coating evenly.

7. In a new pan sauté the eggplant slices a few at a time in 1 tablespoon of hot oil until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Add more oil as needed.

8. Arrange half of the eggplant slices in the bottom of the prepared dish. Sprinkle with half of the remaining parmesan cheese. Top each slice with half of the mozzarella cheese; cover with half of the tomato sauce.

9. Arrange the remaining eggplant slices over the tomato sauce. Cover with the rest of the parmesan, and the tomato sauce.

10. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes. Arrange the remaining mozzarella over the top; bake 20 minute longer, or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Yields 6 servings

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A scan of Mom’s original recipe clipping.


savory meatballs

Savory Meatballs Recipe From Betty's Cook NookAnniversaries of the Heart

In May: This blog celebrated 5 sensationally savory years of enjoying cooking and sharing my Mom “Betty’s” recipes.

This Summer: My foodie partner in crime and I celebrated rather large birthdays, both turning 40! Um, yeah, 40!

Tomorrow: Joe and I celebrate our 12th Manniverary™. Those of you who placed bets … time to settle up! I accept cash or debit cards. Especially cash. 

This Week: My parents Betty and Louis would be celebrating 60 years in marriage on August 27th. Hats off!

Flashback 1976. I remember the moment when my Mom gave my Dad a fancy gold watch for Christmas. It was the first time I saw my Dad break into tears and it was at that moment when the bell went off in my head, ringing to the tune of “Hey, dummy, this must be true love!” Dad was so overwhelmed with his new watch and Mom had cleverly kept the secret all along. Way to go, Mom! #props

Time Flies. Yes, Really!

I remember sitting many a day in math class at MacArthur High literally counting the seconds until the school bell would ring. I would stare at my watch and wonder why the second hand took its slow-sweet time advancing to the next second, the next 5 minute mark, and so on.

These days I look at my watch and I swear it’s beating faster than ever! My eyes wish the second hand would slow down and take it easy so I could catch up and savor what just happened. With the likes of toll roads, Amazon Prime Now and lightening fast download speeds, we truly live in a New York minute – where patience has grown rice paper thin and immediacy scores expected brownie points. Did somebody say brownie?

So this anniversary weekend I asked Joe to pick out the next recipe from Mom’s cookbook for us to try; it’s this simple dish that my native Italian friends would likely laugh at because it calls for frozen peas and minute rice. But hey, we’re in a 1970s state of mind. And that’s how we roll at Betty’s Cook Nook.

Enjoy every. Single.. Minute… Of…. It!

Wait! Did somebody say roll?

foodie tips ~

❤  Ingredients. Per the original recipe below, by “onion” I’m 99.99% certain “white onion” is implied. Also, for soft bread crumbs Progresso is the way to go in my family – plain, Italian Style or Parmesan.

Let's Make Meatballs!

  Let’s make a meatballs (said with an Italian accent)! To make meatballs of uniform size I used a medium-sized cookie scooper that I scored at Bed Bath and Beyond. Great balls of firethat was lightening fast!

  The recipe doesn’t suggest any side dishes, so I will. Flashing back to the 1970s we would likely accompanied these meatballs with a tossed salad. And some bread. Oh yeah, never forget the bread. My meatball dish was dressed with a savory side of garlic bread from my neighborhood HEB.

i. ingredients

1 pound | ground beef
¼ cup | onion, minced
2 tablespoons | soft bread crumbs
½ teaspoon | salt
1 tablespoon | salad oil
1 can | Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
1 cup | water
10 ounce package | frozen green peas
½ teaspoon | salt
1 ⅓ cups | Minute Rice

A Savory Meatballs Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook
ii. what to do

1. Combine ground beef, onion, bread crumbs, and ½ teaspoon salt; shape into about 20 meatballs.

2. Brown meatballs in salad oil in a skillet. Turn the meatballs here and there so they don’t brown irregularly.

3. Add the soup, water, peas, and the last ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and stir in the rice.

4. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Yields 4 servings

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

Savory Meatballs Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

This is a scan of my Mom’s original recipe clipping.
This is the back of the same clipping as the “Turkey Stove Top” recipe already I’ve published.
You gotta check that one out – it was rather tasty!

 

 

 

 

 


barbequed shrimp

barbequed shrimp recipe from betty's cook nook
Checking The Box

As I sit to write this post I think to myself “How well do I really know things about shrimp?”

Turns out not very well!

Why? Well, as a child of 8 who had an unforgettable unpleasant experience with oysters, I’ve since found seafood literally quite fishy, meaning I typically run from it. Batter it up, fry it, and top it with some fresh squeezed lemon or tartar sauce and I’ll come running back. While crab, grilled salmon, Luby’s fried fish, lobster mac and cheese, even some ceviche are right at home in my belly, my list of “no thank yous” include shrimp cocktail, seafood salad, and the likes of anything resembling octopus and squid. Don’t even get me started about a fish served with a head and a glaring, glazed eye. N.O.

So in the end my knowledge of seafood is what I’d call a short story. Two ships that passed in the night. An un-love affair.

A Fish By Any Other Name

When I established this cooking blog I wanted to organize it identically to how Mom organized the sections in her cookbook. Despite my goal there have been recipes that break convention and this recipe is one of them; the only possible two categories this recipe would likely fit under is “appetizers” or “meats poultry and fish.” So I thought: “Check meats poultry and fish!”

Not. So. Fast.

I turned to Google and started researching to find out what, really, is a shrimp?! I came across posts that:

  • Criticized shrimp as being “bottom feeders” that are high in cholesterol
  • Praised shrimp for being a healthy alternative to meat and poultry
  • Described shrimp as being more closely related to spiders, grasshoppers and crabs than to fish
  • And one post that skewered shrimp for exacerbating climate change. Wow, really?

In the end a shrimp is factually a 10-legged crustacean. And since saying “I’m eating crustacean tonight!” sounds plain ol’ #awkward, most people just settle on referring to shrimp as seafood. So there we go … *POOF* … I just created a seafood category box at right!

Shrimping On The Barbie

Before we dive into Mom and Dad’s shrimp recipe below, let’s watch a memorable throwback with this 1980s commercial featuring Paul Hogan who is better remembered as Crocodile Dundee. The phrase “slip another shrimp on the barbie?” It came from this: * Caution: the “shrimp” on the barbie at the end of this commercial is monstrously ginormous. But maybe it’s a prawn? And is a prawn a shrimp? Oh, that’s a foodie research story best served for another day. :)

foodie tips ~

  Don’t watch the above video with closed captioning tuned on … unless you want a good laugh.

  You probably know who had the bright idea to cloak his shrimp in bacon in the picture above. That’s right!

  Do not overcook this shrimp, per Mom’s note below!

i. ingredientsbarbequed shrimp on the grill

1 cup | salad oil
1 teaspoon | salt
3 tablespoons | parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon | dried basil leaves
2 cloves | garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon | catsup
1 teaspoon | pepper
1 tablespoon | wine vinegar
2 pounds | shrimp, shelled and deveined

ii. what to do

1. Combine the first eight ingredients above to make your marinade. Pour over the shrimp and cover. Refrigerate 2-3 hours.

2. Thread shrimp on skewers and place on the barbie. Grill 3 minutes over coals, basting with the marinade.

barbequed shrimp on the grill from betty's cook nook

3. Turn and grill 5 minutes more, basting several times.

Mom said my Dad always got raves from guests for this dish. Enjoy!

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

Mom and Dad's Original Barbequed Shrimp Recipe

Mom and Dad’s Original Barbequed Shrimp Recipe


texas style chili

A Texas Style Chili Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

No Beans About It

Those who know my passion for chili know that I insist that the best chili on the planet is the chili that contains beans. My hips don’t lie.

Right or wrong this sweet bowl of red texas style chili recipe does not have beans and there’s something about it that I absolutely loved … I nervously shelled about $20 for the steak to the folks at HEB and I’m happy to report that it was absolutely delicious! I learned tonight that I actually prefer this type of chili meat over ground anything (even chili ground) so this recipe taught me never to say never in the kitchen.

Giddy up!

foodie tips ~

 Salad Oil? It’s not salad dressing; more like veggie oil, olive oil and the like. Read more about salad oil here.

 Sorry, onion lovers! To avoid “the burpies” we deviated from this recipe and included all of the onions all at once vs. using some fresh on top to garnish. Feel free to keep it raw and real (note Jill’s recipe card below for details).

 Chili Lover? Check out my other family favorite – Kiker’s Kicker Award-Winning Pot Licker Chili recipe. Yay, food awards … I’m important!

 For the dismount also consider serving with saltines or tortilla chips. It keeps you honest.

i. ingredients

3 ½ – 4 pounds | boneless beef chuck blade steak
¼ cup | salad oil
2 cups | onions, chopped
3 medium | green peppers, diced
4 cloves | garlic, crushed
2 28-ounce cans | tomatoes
12-ounce can | tomato paste
2 cups | water
⅓ cup | chili powder
¼ cup | sugar
2 tablespoons | salt
2 teaspoons | oregano leaves
¾ teaspoon | cracked black pepper
to garnish | monterey jack cheese, shredded

ii. what to do

1. Cut steak into ½” cubes.

2. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the meat cubes in clusters ⅓ at a time until it’s all browned. Let’s have a look, shall we?

What a simply delightful video, yes?

3. Remove the meat and set aside, reserving the drippings in the dutch oven.

4. To the drippings add the onions, green peppers and garlic. Cook 10 minutes.

5. Return the meat to the dutch oven and add the next eight ingredients (except the cheese, which is a garnish).

Did You Know? Second To Pong, Asteroids Was My Earliest Video Game Love

6. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer at least 1 ½ hours. This gives you enough time to play some Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Burgertime or Galaga.

7. When serving, sprinkle with the cheese and more fresh onion, if desired.

Yields 12 servings. Or 6 hungry Texans.

Below is a scan of the original chili recipe Mom scored from Jill Root. 

Who Is Jill Root?

Jill Root was a great lady. She was the mother-in-law of my much, much oldest brother Tim. After my Dad died, Jill, Mom (Betty), Tim and I spent many Christmases together with the rest of the Root family, so I can promise you she had a heart of gold. You can read more about Jill here.

Thank you Jill for this recipe! I found a way to make my chili even better (coming soon).

A Scan Of Mom's Recipe For Texas Style Chili That She Scored From Jill Root