Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vinegary Epiphany

My Thanksgiving cactus seems to be putting all its energy into growing new segments instead of blossoms this season. Thus, here you see the single bloom brightening my window, now that the amaryllis is done for the year.

I never could keep it straight, the difference between Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus, until I did a good Google session last year. Basically, the leaf segments give you the identification. The Christmas cactus has scalloped edges. The Thanksgiving cactus has toothed edges. Paul Brunelle has a page with photos and excellent information on some of the different flowering cacti.

Finished off the venison I'd chopped up for sandwich filling but I put it into a slightly different form. Whupped up a small batch of Yorkshire pudding batter and baked it in a couple of the Corning Ware bowls. While that delicacy was blooming in the oven, I tossed the minced venison and onion mixture into a smidge of olive oil in a small frying pan on top of the stove, dredged it in a bit of flour and added enough milk to make a lovely venison gravy. When the puds came out of the oven, one was turned out onto a plate and filled with half the gravy and, shazzam! I had lunch. Later, the second one and the final portion of gravy became dinner.

So you don't have to look it up, I'll remind you this is the Yorkshire pudding by volume version. I love this way of doing it because you can make different amounts of batter without doing any rocket science cogitating. Just remember to keep the volume of the main ingredients the same. Since I only wanted a bit of batter (that has a certain lilt to it), I matched everything up with the volume of the egg. One large egg equaled 1/4 of a cup so I whisked it with 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup liquid (half milk and half water) and then added a pinch of salt and a capful of vinegar. And I think I had a minor epiphany as the vinegar splashed into the puddle of milk.

UK celebrity chef Brian Turner, commenting about the vinegar in the recipe, said he wasn't sure why it was there but his Granny used it so why change what works? Now, Coffee Mates, what do we use when the recipe calls for buttermilk and we only have regular milk on hand? Why, we splash in some lemon juice or vinegar and magically produce the clabbered goodness the recipe has requested. I'll betcha Brian's Granny made good buttermilk biscuits, too.

You think?

Earlier this afternoon the weather began to go from overcast to downright sloppy. Now the wind has begun to whistle about and rain is steadily splattering against the windows. Bah! This is when a good fireplace would be ever so comforting. I'll have to settle for curling up with a warm fleece blanket and a purring cat, with a mug of steaming coffee and a good book. A most excellent way to tune out the outside tempest.

WHOOPSIE ADDENDUM: Ava's comment made me realize I hadn't included baking info above. Sheesh. For the full tale of the individual Yorkies, go to the November 1, 2007 post, Another Addiction. Otherwise, this is the deal: I use the 5 1/2 inch Corning Ware baking dishes, the ones with handles. (One can use 6 inch cast iron skillets, too.) Put a teaspoon of olive oil and about the same amount of butter in the bottom of each and put in a 400 degree oven. Let heat for about 10 minutes. Pull the baking dishes out and pour in the batter. Put back in oven and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until sides are a rich brown. See photo at the link. It's important to pour the batter into hot containers, with the oil/butter sizzling. Also, it seems to help with the rise to have the batter sit at room temperature for at least an hour. Your mileage may vary. When the Yorkies are done, slide a table knife or thin spatula around the sides and gently lift them out onto serving plates, then fill with whatever you've decided to load in there. Happy munching!


Wendy said...

Dee, thanks for that link. Now I know for sure that mine is a Christmas cactus that didn't bloom this year. Darned cats.

Dee said...

Hmmm. That non-bloom mode seems to be going around, with or without the feline influence. It's a mystery to me. [helpless shrug]

Anonymous said...

Well I have to back up and check the link because I was told the one I have is Christmas cactus and the other a weeping Christmas cactus. Both used to bloom then, but they are blooming now too.


Anonymous said...

Okay, you have convinced me to try the Yorkie puddin'. I have never had it, but anything with cream gravy slathered over it must be good. Around these parts we are partial to biscuits and gravy, but hey, I'm flexible. I suppose I grease the baking dish. What size for these porportions? Muffin tins? Or larger? And please tell me what heat and how long to bake?

Email me.

Anonymous said...

Ain't you the sweet one! Thanks for enlightening me about the recipe, Dee. You are a peach for sure. I thought you had written about this particular dish before, but as usual my mushy ol brain had forgotten. Now I have it all copied and printed for my recipe book.

Thanks again.

Mage And George said...

The one in my living room is blooming madly, but I can't tell what kind it is so I will just enjoy it. Nope...not eating that. Still weight watchering here. :)

Kate said...

My Thanksgiving cactus is just blooming now -- WT_? And not too exuberantly, either. But it is a comfort that Thanksgiving & Christmas cacti as a class seem to be on strike. Makes it less personal, somehow.