The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Croissant

The Holiday Season is winding down, but we’re not out of it just yet. We still have the sixth of “Januervy” to consider. Of course it’s Epiphany, but did you know it’s also Topsy Turvy Day? (Yes, I’m talking about the one from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.) Hunchback has always been one of my top Disney movies, (Even as a kid, I liked how serious it is. The only thing I hate is Quasimodo getting his heart broken.) so every year I try to do something silly to celebrate Topsy Turvy Day. Unfortunately, every year I end up completely forgetting about it, waking up on the 7th, and immediately thinking, “Dang it! I missed it again.” Well it’s not happening this year! I came prepared. Sort of. I haven’t come up with actual topsy turvy, upsy daisy things to do yet. And it’s not like I can just stroll on down to the Feast of Fools and bob for snails or play “Dunk The Monk.” But I can at least watch Hunchback and eat yummy food. (Yeah, that’s as far as I’ve gotten, but what can you expect when I keep missing the holiday?) Ah, what food, pray tell? Here’s a hint. It’s from another wonderful song from this movie. (My Hunchback soundtrack has a lot of miles on it.)

In “A Guy Like You,” Hugo compares Quasimodo’s physical appearance to a croissant, which is a strange compliment but Hugo means well. (After all, he’s the fat, stupid one with the big mouth.) But everyone loves croissants, so since Quasimodo is shaped like one, there’s no question that everyone loves him. He’s my favorite character. I think that’s more because of things like his kindness, and courage, and the fact that “Out There” makes me cry, but I’m desperately trying to justify making croissants here. So croissants it is. And these babies are not for the faint of heart. They take days to make and can be a bit of a pain, but stick around ‘til the end and you won’t be disappointed.

Recipe makes about 1 dozen croissants.

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups, plus 2 tablespoons bread flour

½ cup, plus 1 tablespoons water, cold

½ cup, plus 1 tablespoon whole milk, cold

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon instant yeast

1 ½ teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 ½ sticks unsalted butter (with the highest butterfat content you can find), cold, for laminating

1 large egg, plus 1 teaspoon water for egg wash

 

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flours and salt. Add the sugar and instant yeast. Add the water, milk, and the 3 tablespoons of butter. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed for 3 minutes. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl once. Turn out the dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten slightly. Place the dough on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

After making the dough, prepare the butter layer by cutting the 2 ½ sticks of butter in fourths, lengthwise. Arrange the butter sticks into a rectangle on top of a piece of parchment or waxed paper. Place another piece of paper on top and smash and roll the butter until it becomes an even 9 X 6 (L X W) inch rectangle. Wrap the butter slab and refrigerate overnight.

Begin the laminating process by unwrapping the dough and laying it out on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle with the width of it facing you. Ultimately, you’ll want the rectangle to be large enough to completely encase the butter slab without any overlap, so it’ll be about 14 X 9 inches. Place the butter slab in the center of the dough so its length is facing you. Fold the top and bottom sides of the dough so they meet in the middle without overlapping. Pinch the center and both ends together to completely seal in the butter. Turn the dough rectangle 90 degrees so it resembles a book. Completely cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Unwrap the dough “book” and place on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll the dough out so it’s a rectangle 24 inches in length. We’re more worried about length than width, so the dough can get little wider but you don’t want more than a couple of inches. Gently run your hands under the dough to keep it from sticking. This is also where things start getting tough. If you notice the dough is fighting back or the butter is beginning to ooze, place the dough back into the fridge for 10-20 minutes. Once the dough has reached the desired length, fold one end (Top or bottom.) toward the center of the dough. Then fold the other end on top of that one. Now that it’s stacked, make sure all the edges line up perfectly. Turn the dough 90 degrees so it resembles a book again. Completely cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Unwrap the dough and repeat the rolling and folding process. Place the dough book in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then unwrap the dough and repeat the rolling and folding process again. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Unwrap the laminated dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 24 X 9 inch rectangle. If the dough begins fighting back, fold it into thirds and place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. Once the dough has reached the desired length, gently lift it up about an inch and allow it to shrink on both sides. Doing this now will keep the dough from shrinking after it’s been cut. If the edges of the dough rounded while being rolled, you can trim a bit off so they’re straight. Measure and mark the dough with a knife or pizza cutter, so you will be able to cut out triangles that are 3 inches wide and 9 inches long. Cut out the triangles and cut a ½ inch slit in the center of the flat end of each one. With the flat side toward you, place your hands on each side of the slit. Press your hands forward so the sides of the croissant, or the legs, get longer as you roll the dough all the way to the point. Press just enough so the layers will stick together, but be careful not to squish them. Bend the legs so the croissant forms a crescent shape and place on a baking sheet. Repeat the rolling and folding with each croissant. Leave room between the croissants on the baking sheets. Whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash and brush a thin layer on each croissant. Refrigerate the remaining egg wash. Let the croissants proof somewhere warm, but not too warm that the butter oozes out, until they have increased in size and the dough springs back when you gently press the surface, 1 ½-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with the racks in the top and lower thirds.

Brush the croissants with the remaining egg wash and bake for 10-15 minutes. Rotate the trays and bake another 10-15 minutes or until they are fully browned. Remove from the oven and let rest on their sheets for a couple minutes. Move the croissants to a wire rack and cool completely. Now you can finally eat them.

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My croissants aren’t perfect looking, but they’re not too shabby for my first try and they taste so good. Since I had a lot of down time while making these, I did quite a bit of thinking and I realized Quasimodo really is like a croissant. With their many layers, there’s a complexity to them that you don’t understand until you take a closer look and see them for who/what they truly are.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Cratchit Family Christmas Dinner

Another year, another Christmas Carol. There are just so many of them, I couldn’t resist. Last year, when I covered A Christmas Carol, I said it’s my very favorite animated version of the story. Well, so is Mickey’s Christmas Carol. (I have trouble picking favorites.) It was one of my first tastes of A Christmas Carol and, come on, it’s Disney. Everywhere you look, a beloved character shows up to take on a role from this classic. Among them you’ll see Mickey and Co., Mr. Toad, Willie the Giant, and Jiminy Cricket. And let’s not forget about Scrooge McDuck starring as his namesake! Ebenezer Scrooge is a cruel man, but his sense of humor and attitude make it tough to hate him. However, just because I like him doesn’t mean I’m happy with how he treats people like Fred (Donald), the Collectors for the poor (Ratty and Moley), and Isabelle (Daisy). And the poor Cratchits! Bob (Mickey) says he gets paid two shillings and a ha’penny and that’s only because he got a raise for doing Scrooge’s laundry. That’s not nearly enough to support his family. Did you see their Christmas dinner?

The Cratchit Family’s Christmas dinner consists of one very small bird, some brown stuff, and peas. I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m sure Mrs. Cratchit (Minnie) is a wonderful cook, but that’s supposed to feed a family of five? And it doesn’t help that the Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie) shows up with the food of generosity. After seeing mince pies, turkey, and suckling pig, you know that the Cratchit dinner isn’t going to be a pretty sight. Then Scrooge compares it to a canary! If I didn’t feel for the Cratchits already, I would after seeing Tiny Tim (Morty Fieldmouse) walk in and say, “Oh, my! Look at all the wonderful things to eat.” (My heart!) And then there’s my favorite scene where Bob slices his one little pea. That’ll stay with me forever because of how unbelievably silly/sad it is. Oh, and if that isn’t enough to break your heart, Tiny Tim tries to give his dad his drumstick. (Tiny Tim, you sweet, little angel.) It’s sad when this meal is made for an entire family, but for one person, it’d be quite the little feast.

Just what bird Mrs. Cratchit cooked up, I have no idea, but I’m going to use a Cornish game hen. As for the mysterious brown stuff, I’m guessing it’s stuffing. And the peas, well they’re peas.

Recipe makes Christmas dinner for one.

Ingredients

Cornish Game Hen:

1 Cornish game hen

Butter

Salt

Pepper

Stuffing

½ large onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

½ tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped

2 ounces bread crumbs

1 large egg, beaten

Salt

Pepper

Peas

½ cup peas, fresh or frozen

¾ tablespoon butter, melted

Salt

Pepper

Directions

Cornish Game Hen:

Rinse the Cornish game hen and dry thoroughly. Place on a rack over a pan in the fridge, uncovered, for 1-24 hours, the longer the better.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Rub a liberal amount of butter, up to a tablespoon, on the Cornish game hen, inside and out and under the skin. Then season it, inside and out, with liberal amounts of salt and pepper. Truss the Cornish game hen and place on a small rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. You can also place it on a small rack inside the pan.

Stuffing:

Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Remove from heat and add the sage. Add the breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper. Add enough egg until the mixture just comes together when pressed. Break up the stuffing into large chunks and place on the pan with the Cornish game hen.

Peas:

If you are using fresh peas, boil them for 2-3 minutes. Drain and dry thoroughly. If you are using frozen, thaw and dry thoroughly. In a bowl, combine peas, butter, salt, and pepper.

Putting It All Together:

Bake the Cornish game hen and stuffing until the thickest part of the thigh reads 160-165 degrees F and the juices run clear, about 1 hour. When you have about 20 minutes left of cooking time, add the peas to the pan. Remove from the oven and loosely tent with foil. Let rest 10 minutes. Untruss the Cornish game hen and serve it up with some stuffing and peas. Enjoy!

Variations:
Everyone seems to have their own way of cooking birds, so do what works best for you and your oven. I didn’t use a brine, but you can if you prefer. Also, you can rub the Cornish game hen with olive oil or nothing at all. And you can easily make more or less of anything.

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I feel so awful. I used the smallest Cornish game hen I could find and it’s still huge compared to Mrs. Cratchit’s “canary.” I couldn’t even eat the whole thing in one sitting. But despite not having a whole lot, the Cratchits are still a pretty happy family because they have each other. And thanks to Scrooge’s change of heart, they can afford to keep it that way. The toys and the turkey aren’t bad either, but it’s being with family and friends that makes it a merry Christmas Day.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

I’ll be taking a break for the next two weeks.
Tune in next year for more Cartoon Cravings!

How Murray Saved Christmas

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

South of the North Pole in the U.S. of A., my family’s been prepping for the big holiday. We’ve decked the halls and trimmed the tree, and watched every special on our TV. You can’t knock the classics ’cause they’re all works of art, but I’m thinking more modern and funny and smart. It’s How Murray Saved Christmas that we’ve come to hold dear and we take bets on how often we’ll watch it each year. That’s it. I’m done with the rhyming. Hey, it’s tough stuff and I shouldn’t be doing it without a poetic license. But that doesn’t stop the residents of Stinky Cigars. (I know, doesn’t that just sound like the perfect place to live?) The town honors a banner with two smelly (cigar) butts on it. Oh, and it just gets better. Turns out, Stinky Cigars is home to many holiday stars with so much pride, they’ll kill half the day singing their town anthem. I’m pretty sure that place was made for me. Actually, my siblings and I feel that everything about How Murray Saved Christmas was made for us. It’s over the top and hilariously odd, but it means well. (Wow. That does kind of describe us.) I love how it turns the typical holiday stuff on its head. Santa isn’t the hero, he’s a likeable jerk. (“He’s a great guy outside the office.”) Then an elf causes him to get a concussion which leaves a grumpy diner owner as the only person qualified to be a St. Nick Substitute. (I feel bad for Santa, but I’m a big fan of Queen Hannah of Bananaland.) I think it’s safe to say that this special is one of a kind.

With Murray Weiner being the owner of a bustling holiday diner, we see a lot of his handy work in this special, from chili and roast beef to a lean pastrami sandwich with coleslaw and a triple-thick chocolate milkshake. Murray may have Antisocial claustrophobic paranoid neurosis, (I can’t help but sing that like Doc Holiday!) but he can sure cook. Even when The April Fool orders compact discs on rye, Murray doesn’t disappoint. I wasn’t allowed to make that. My sister also banned me from making Edison Elf’s pizza and spaghetti racket. (“It’s wasteful and dirty and terribly rude.”) That’s fine because I got to try making Murray’s chocolate chip cheesecake. It looks incredible and if anyone knows his dairy products, it’s Murray.

Recipe makes one 9-inch cheesecake.

Ingredients

Crust:

25 Oreo cookies (About 2 cups)

5 tablespoons butter, melted

 

Filling

2 ½ pounds cream cheese, room temperature

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup sour cream, room temperature

5 large eggs, room temperature

2 egg yolks, room temperature

1 cup roughly chopped semi-sweet chocolate chips or mini chips

Boiling water for water bath

 

Ganache

8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup heavy cream

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with rack positioned in the lower third of the oven.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Cut two large pieces of foil and crisscross them. Place the springform pan in the center of the foil and wrap the edges around the sides of the pan.

Crust:

In a food processor, pulse the cookies until they form fine crumbs. Add butter and pulse until the mixture holds together when pressed. Pour the mixture into the springform pan and press evenly into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust until it is fragrant and set, 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Filling:

In a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is light and smooth. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips

Ganache:

Place the dark chocolate into a food processor. Pour the heavy cream into a microwave-safe bowl and heat until it begins to simmer, 3-4 minutes. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Pulse until the chocolate mixture is smooth.

Putting It All Together:

Pour the cheesecake filling over the cooled crust and evenly spread. Place the springform pan into a roasting pan or large baking dish. Carefully pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform and place in the oven.

Bake the cheesecake until the edges are set and the center slightly jiggles, 55-60 minutes. Turn off the oven and crack open the door. Let the cheesecake cool for one hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and water bath and unwrap the foil. Cool completely on a wire rack. Chill the cheesecake, uncovered, in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan. Prepare the ganache and allow it to cool slightly before evenly pouring over the cheesecake. Allow the ganache to spill over and cover the sides as well. Chill the cheesecake, uncovered, until the ganache is set, about 4 hours. Now it’s finally ready to be sliced and served!

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Santa gives Murray’s chocolate chip cheesecake credit for making him fat. Yep, I’m pretty sure the same thing’s going to happen to me. Whether it’s making cheesecakes or deliveries, The Milkman’s still got it. Murray proves that when he’s giving out presents. And he has such a good time, his curmudgeonly shell melts away and he delivers gifts to everyone in the world, regardless of behavior or religion. See, there’s some warm and fuzzy holiday feels in this too. And Murray wraps up with an ending that’s sweet. I’d love to type more, but I’ve got cheesecake to eat.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

 

 

Annabelle’s Wish

Cookies For Santa

The most magical time of year is now upon us. This is a season of miracles where anything can happen as long as you believe. Nothing is too farfetched for the Christmas Season which makes it the perfect occasion for dreams and wishes. And if any night was tailor-made for wishes, it’d be Christmas Eve. December has only just begun, so Christmas Eve is still a long ways off, but wishes are worth waiting for. And this is the home stretch for those who’ve been waiting a whole year to ask Santa for a special wish. (I hope you’ve been REALLY good.) We all know he’s gearing up for his annual gift-giving visit to the children and animals of the world. Yep, kids aren’t the only ones who get a gift from Santa. It’s supposed to be a secret, but every year, Santa brings animals their own Christmas Voices. I’ve been trying to get one of my pets to let the cat out of the bag, but they’ve all been tight-lipped for years. Still, I remain a firm believer in the legend, thanks to a certain little movie titled Annabelle’s Wish.

You know, memories have a way of being good and bad, even simple ones about watching Christmas movies. I’ve seen Annabelle’s Wish countless times and it doesn’t feel right going a December without it, but I can’t forget the emotional scars it left on me. (Yes, I cried over a cartoon cow. I was sensitive. Leave me alone.) I’m okay now since many Christmases have come and gone since my first time seeing it, but we do still refer to Annabelle’s Wish as, “The Unspeakable.” I’m always so moved by this movie because it’s as pretty as a present. Everything from the visuals, to the acting, to the music works together beautifully, and at its core, Annabelle’s Wish is such a pure story of dreams, friendship, and selflessness that my heart can’t help taking flight alongside Annabelle. Well, I can’t think of a better way to honor a movie I love than to make food from it. Throughout Annabelle’s Wish, Santa gives such wonderful gifts to the farm animals, Billy, and Annabelle, so the least I can do is give back a little to Santa by making a batch of cookies just like the ones Billy leaves out.

Recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar, packed

½ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 ¾ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are golden, 9-11 minutes.

Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for a couple minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. Now they’re ready for Santa (Or yourself!)

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Sure, Santa sees a lot of cookies during his night out delivering gifts, but there’s just something about a plate of delicious looking cookies and a tall glass of milk that’s too good to pass up. The cookies even tempt Ears and he’d have eaten them if he had the reach. (Then Santa would’ve lost both his lunch and his cookies to the Baker animals.) All of this writing about Santa and talking animals may seem pretty silly to some, but that’s what Christmas Eve is all about. It’s a night made for wishes and believers of all ages. (But right now, my only wish is that it’d get here sooner!)

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving

Hot Chocolatey Ice Cream

Thanksgiving is kind of a big deal for my family because stuffing ourselves silly surrounded by our loved ones is essentially living the dream. And do you know what else (Who else actually.) is a big deal for my family? Winnie the Pooh. We’ve all fallen in love with that silly old bear and his friends. So writing about A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving just seems like a no brainer. Thanksgiving is a pretty important day in the Hundred Acre Wood too. It’s Pooh’s most favorite day of all. Most of the residents get together to share a feast and each one contributes something special to it. Pooh brings honey, Piglet haycorns, Gopher lemonade (52.6 gallons of it!), Owl biscuits, Eeyore thistles (Although he says no one will like them but him.), and Tigger brings hot chocolatey ice cream! It’s not the traditional Thanksgiving fare, but they’re happy with it. Then Rabbit shows up. He considers a Thanksgiving Day without turkey, cranberry dressing, the “once a year” plates, and pumpkin pie nothing more than a chilly Thursday. He then assigns duties and responsibilities to everyone in order to have a properly organized celebration. (Rabbit really expects Pooh and Piglet to catch a turkey?!)

My family does the standard turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie thing, but that’s because we want them, not because we’d be celebrating wrong without them. Before Thanksgiving every year, each of my family members gets to choose one dish for our meal. Think of it like our own contributions, except only my mom, sister, and I do the cooking. (We’d prefer not to have Gophers in the kitchen.) What we eat is important to us, but we’re just thankful that we can eat together. Even a Hundred Acre Wood Thanksgiving would be fine by me. There’s nothing wrong with honey, haycorns, and hot chocolatey ice cream. (Leave it to Tigger to bring ice cream!) Actually, I think some hot chocolatey ice cream would be a perfect addition to my Thanksgiving feast. Pie shouldn’t have all the glory.

Recipe makes 1 quart of ice cream.

Ingredients

½ cup hot chocolate mix

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1 ½ cups heavy cream

¾ cup milk

¾ cup sugar

4 large egg yolks

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together 1 cup heavy cream and the hot chocolate mix. Once combined, add the rest of the heavy cream and the milk and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the unsweetened chocolate until fully melted and smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and whisk until light and thickened. While constantly whisking, pour small amounts of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. Once 1/3 or so of the chocolate mixture has been added, pour in the rest of the chocolate mixture. Pour the new mixture back into the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon and reaches 170 degrees F. Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer and into a bowl. Add the vanilla extract. Allow mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes to come to room temperature. You can set the bowl over an ice bath to cool the mixture quicker. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until the mixture is fully chilled, 4 hours to overnight.

Pour the mixture in an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the ice cream and store in an airtight container in the freezer until fully hardened, about 4 hours. Enjoy!

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If hot chocolatey ice cream was the only thing to eat on Thanksgiving, I’d still have a very good day. (I’m about as obsessed with it as Tigger is.) But Rabbit believes that Thanksgiving is all about tradition and custom, habit and routine. He’s half right, but everyone has different traditions and can change them whenever they want. Turkey isn’t the most immensely important part of the holiday. And having enough food to calm the most ferocious of beasts is just a bonus. So if your food and decorations are ruined, you can’t just call off Thanksgiving and say there’s nothing to be thankful for. (I’m talking to you, Rabbit!) Don’t worry. Pooh helps Rabbit see the error in his ways once he rounds everyone up again to share Thanksgiving. Rabbit realizes that all he needs for Thanksgiving, or any other day, are the friends he has. That’s because Thanksgiving is truly about friends and family gathering together to give thanks for how things are and what they have. After all, the grandest thing we shall ever have is one another, or so it was said by a bear named Winnie the Pooh.

 

I’ll be taking a break next week.

Tune in next, next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Tiny Toon Adventures

Episode: The Acme Home Shopping Show-I Was A Teenage Bunny Sitter
Mashed Topato Man

Whenever I’m in need of a heaping helping of the 90’s, (Which is honestly every day.) I can easily get my fix by watching a little Tiny Toon Adventures. It’s so funny and smart that I can never get tired of the show. Every time I watch it, I find something that I never noticed before, whether it’s a pop culture reference, gag, or just a lovely bit of acting or animation. And episodes that I never paid much attention to in the past have quickly become some of my favorites. I get a kick out of all the parodies Tiny Toons does and I love when the episodes are presented as other shows, say for instance, something you’d find on a home shopping network. By the time the show gets to the last segment, Buster has gotten himself all sorts of hurt thanks to the Fly-Boy Beanie, so he’s very happy to see that the last item is a nice, safe book. I’m very happy too because I love “I was a Teenage Bunnysitter.”

I’ve got a weakness for the little kiddos in Tiny Toons. (I can’t get enough of Little Plucky!) But this segment is all about Duncan Potter! As much as Babs hates babysitting, she’s pretty good at it once she gets off the phone. (Instead of killing Duncan when he drives her crazy, Babs vents her frustration by screaming outside.) When Duncan asks for mashed potatoes, or mashed topatoes, Babs makes him some from scratch. She even shapes the mashed topatoes into a man and gives him psghetti hair at Duncan’s request. I’ve eaten my weight in mashed potatoes over the years, but never in the shape of a man. And never with spaghetti. Now I can’t miss an opportunity to play with my food, so one mashed potato man coming right up!

Recipe makes about 4-6 men, depending on amount of mashed potatoes used per man.

Ingredients

2 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

¼ cup heavy cream

¼ cup (½ stick) butter, cut into chunks, plus a butter pat for each man

Salt and white pepper to taste

4-6 ounces spaghetti noodles

 

Directions

Mashed Topato Man:

Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain.

Place the pot back over the heat. Add the heavy cream and butter. Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat and add the mixture to the potatoes. Using a masher, food mill, or similar tool of your choice, mash the potatoes until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper.

Psghetti Hair:

Bring a large pot full of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles have cooked through, 8 minutes. Drain.

Putting It All Together:

Place a heaping scoop of mashed potatoes on a plate. Sculpt a man out of mashed potatoes and place a butter pat on/in his center. Add some spaghetti noodles to give the man hair. Now go all Tyrannosaurus Rex on that mashed topato man!

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Okay, so I’m no artist, but I like my mashed topato man. (My sister says he looks like a cute, little pig.) But if I eat my mashed topato man, he’ll die. Actually, I already ate him. Sorry little guy. And I did it in a slightly more civilized way than Duncan. I didn’t go full dinosaur, but I did have some fun eating my mashed topato man. I think I could really get along with Duncan, at least for a little while. Based on my babysitting experience, I’m positive that little kid would run me ragged. By the end of the night, I’d be conked out like Babs. I’m getting kind of tired just thinking about it. Maybe I’ll just buy the book instead.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Episode: Dale Beside Himself
Walnut Wallaroos

If I had enough know-how to be a detective, I’d start my own agency right away. I’m more of the fun-loving, laid back type, so I’d bring on my sister because she’s much more serious and responsible. I also think we’d need someone really smart to invent gadgets and vehicles to aid us in our crime solving. And to round everything out, we should have a loveable, well-traveled Australian with a little squeaky/buzzy “sidekick.” Wait a minute. I think I just described the Rescue Rangers! I guess it can’t be helped. The show’s been near and dear to me for as long as I can remember. Day after day, my Mom and I would get up early and watch some of The Disney Channel’s finest. I loved seeing those mischievous, little chipmunks don some snazzy outfits and take on hero roles. (Yeah, I didn’t get the Indiana Jones and Magnum P.I. references until many years later.) And Gadget, Monterey Jack, and Zipper are all forces to be reckoned with and were perfect additions to the Disney family. But the best thing about the Rescue Rangers is how they specialize in cases that have “slipped through the cracks.” And believe me, they take on more than simple missing kitty cases. (Can you say “mad scientist?”) Through their many adventures, whether on a case or not, they’ve crossed paths with the likes of crime bosses, pirates, and even aliens.

Monterey Jack’s previous experiences adventuring have been a big help to the Rescue Rangers in many of these cases. But they can also be a problem. I’m talking about the Walnut Wallaroos. Monterey Jack was taught this cookie recipe by The Great Eskimo Chief MightyMuckLuck when he was hitchhiking through the Southern Arctic in the middle of a snowstorm. (That’s quite a mouthful and I haven’t eaten gotten to actually making the cookies.) Now what’s wrong with Walnut Wallaroos? It’s not like Monterey Jack uses walrus nail clippings. The problem here is the sheer number of cookies made. Monterey Jack goes just a teensy bit overboard and bakes over 30 dozen! And the ones who have to pay the price are Gadget, Chip, and Zipper. (Gadget and Chip resort to hiding cookies when they get too full.) Monterey Jack doesn’t seem to mind though. He just dumps the entire pile into his mouth. Hey, they’re not cheese, but those cookies must be pretty good.

Recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

3 cups chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the milk and the dry ingredients alternatingly and mix until combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Flatten the cookies slightly.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies begin to brown and are set, 10-12 minutes.

Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and allow the cookies to cool slightly before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. Dig in!

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With all of this Walnut Wallaroo business, Monterey Jack, Gadget, and Chip don’t realize that an alien has switched places with Dale. They notice “Dale” acting weird, but they would never suspect that the real one was flying through outer space. I can’t blame them. I’m not sure if I could tell if there was an alien in my house. And my senses would be severely dulled by all those Walnut Wallaroo Cookies. I don’t know if my household could eat through over 30 dozen cookies, but we’d give it our all. Hey, we can’t let food go to waste. I guess I’m a touch like DTZ as well. Cookies are basically my erkburgles and I could never be happy living anywhere without them.

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Ginger Cake

I’ve always been kind of a fraidy-cat, but that’s never kept me from grabbing up every spooky story I could get my hands on. I started off with series like Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and quickly moved on to longer and darker books. So I’m one of those people who just can’t wait for Halloween because hair-raising stories are in abundance. It’s also the best time of year to hear my favorite scary tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” I don’t remember the first time I heard the story, but Disney made sure I’d never forget it. Washington Irving’s legend of Ichabod Crane is fun and mysterious in its own right, but when sprinkled with Disney magic, it comes to life as a classic that I still watch every year. It’s entertaining, a bit spooky, and narrated by the incomparable, Bing Crosby. (Of course he sings too!) The tunes are so catchy, I just have to hear “Headless Horseman” once and it’s stuck in my head until well into December. This animated Sleepy Hollow may not be the most elaborate interpretation of the legend, but it’s always been my favorite.

I know that food is a big part of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I wasn’t prepared to be given so many options. Ichabod is always eating pies, turkeys, cakes, and whatever else is in his reach. How can that scarecrow of a man put so much food away? Ultimately, I chose from the large spread at Baltus Van Tassel’s Halloween Frolic. During his dance with Katrina, Ichabod grabs up a large slice of cake and eats it all in one bite, without missing a beat. My sister and I almost immediately got into a mini debate over the flavor of the cake. Although it could’ve been chocolate or carrot, I gave Irving’s story another run through and read that the Van Tassels had ginger cakes at their party. So I settled on a gingerbread cake that wouldn’t be too far off from cakes served around that time. But what about icing? Back then, many icings were just a mix of water and powdered sugar or beaten egg whites and sugar. I was leaning more toward the egg whites and figured that Seven-Minute Frosting was a descendent of that simple icing and would work just fine. So the cake isn’t historically accurate, but I doubt Ichabod would complain.

Recipe makes one double-layered cake.

Ingredients

Ginger Cake:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 ½ cups molasses

1 cup buttermilk

3 eggs, beaten

4 cups sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground ginger

Pecan or Walnut Halves (Could be either but I had pecans on hand.)

 

Seven-Minute Frosting

1 ½ cups sugar

1/3 cup water

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

Ginger Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add molasses, buttermilk, cinnamon, and ginger and mix thoroughly. Mix in the eggs and then 2 cups of flour. Once combined, add the baking soda water. Gradually add the remaining 2 cups of flour and stir until just combined.

Divide cake batter amongst pans. Gently tap or drop pans on the counter to remove air pockets. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cakes are tested. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out cakes on a wire rack and cool completely.

Seven-Minute Frosting:

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan or bottom of a double boiler. Combine sugar, water, egg whites, corn syrup, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl or top of the double boiler. Place the bowl over the boiling water. Be careful not to let the bowl touch the water or else the frosting may become grainy. Begin beating the mixture with an electric hand mixer on low speed for a minute. Increase the speed to high and beat until stiff and glossy, 5-7 minutes. Remove the frosting from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Beat again for 1 minute.

Putting It All Together:

Trim excess cake so both rounds are level. Spread a layer of the seven-minute frosting on top of one of the cakes. Top with the other cake. Evenly frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining seven-minute frosting. Garnish the cake with pecan or walnut halves. Cut into 5 very large slices (Or more if you don’t have an Ichabod-like appetite.) and serve!

Variations: I watched through The Legend of Sleepy Hollow several times before making the cake and never noticed a color difference between the filling and the outer frosting. (You can bet I was miffed when I found a quality photo of the cake scene.) So feel free to substitute any kind of colored or flavored filling. Also, if you’re not a fan of seven-minute frosting, (Because it can be a pain sometimes.) buttercream and cream cheese frosting both go really well with gingerbread.

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No one in my house is as nimble as Ichabod, but I had to test how easily someone could pull off Ichabod’s “cake dancing.” Turns out, it’s a lot harder than it looks. (Injuries were sustained while trying to take a decent photo.) But at least we were rewarded with giant slices of tasty cake. But Ichabod needed the cake more than we did. Not that he knew at the time, but he’d need all the energy he could muster when finding himself face-to-flaming pumpkin face with the Headless Horseman.

 In the end, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow leaves you questioning Ichabod’s fate. I like to side with those who believe he was spirited away by the Headless Horseman. (Sorry Ichabod.) And maybe I’ve watched this cartoon a few too many times, but I almost believe there is a Headless Horseman out there. It doesn’t help when I start comparing him to my cake. That sounds odd, but hear me out. Both the Horseman and my cake started out as ideas put to paper that evolved to the point where they were brought to life by lovers of the legend. If my cake turned out this well, I’d hate to encounter the Headless Horseman. (*Shudders*) Man, I’m getting out of here.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School

Fungus Fudge

“Raggy, rook! Writing!” I’m not trying to say “lighting” or “lightning.” I really do mean “writing” because this is the beginning of the Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School post! I love Scooby-Doo and I have quite the soft spot for this movie. Most of Shaggy’s and Scooby’s adventures involve some guy in a costume, but every once in a while, they have to face off against real deal monsters. And when Shaggy takes on a job as a Gym Teacher/Coach (With Scooby and Scrappy as assistants, of course.) at Miss Grimwood’s Finishing School for Ghouls, the guys get a little more than they bargained for. (He should’ve paid a little closer attention to the name.) Miss Grimwood’s isn’t the typical fancy finishing school. It’s full of girl ghouls with some very famous fathers. We’re talking the mightiest monsters in the world: Count Dracula, The Werewolf, Frankenteen (Frankenstein’s Monster), The Phantom, and The Mummy. Now it’s all fun and games training the girls for their annual volleyball match against the neighboring Calloway Military School, but things get downright dangerous when the Witch of the Web, Revolta, kidnaps the girls and tries to turn them evil.

But long before Shaggy ever lays eyes on Miss Grimwood’s and meets the girls, he’s, in typical Shaggy fashion, most excited to get to the school to try some of its fancy cooking. Unfortunately, the food is anything but fancy. The garden is full of rotten fruits and vegetables. (They make sure to weed out all the fresh stuff.) And thick, tasty-looking steaks are reserved for the Venus Flytraps. The goodies for the school’s big Halloween Open House include Swamp Brownies, Caterpillar Cookies, and Poison Ivy Punch. Even when Colonel Calloway stops by to arrange their volleyball game, he is offered refreshments with the Grimwood flair. Tea and sweets seems harmless enough to Miss Grimwood, but the Colonel isn’t a fan of Fungus Fudge and Toadstool Tea. If you couldn’t tell by now, I kind of have a thing for making weird food, so Fungus Fudge is right up my alley. I have no clue just what kind of fungus Miss Grimwood uses in her fudge, so I thought that typical, non-poisonous mushrooms would be a safe bet.

Recipe makes 9 large pieces of fudge.

Ingredients

4 ½ cups sugar

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1 ¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 ¼ tablespoons corn syrup 

6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

1 ounce dried mushrooms, processed into a fine powder (I used a blend that included porcini, shiitake, and oyster, but it all comes down to flavor preferences.)

Directions

Grease an 8 X 11 inch baking dish.

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, chocolate, heavy cream, and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the chocolate has melted. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan and cook the mixture, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 234 degrees F.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter and mushroom powder. As much as it pains you, don’t stir the mixture until it drops to 130 degrees F. Stir the fudge until it’s well-blended, thickened, and loses its shine. Pour and spread evenly into the prepared pan and let it sit until firm. This could take about 4 hours. Slice the fudge and eat up!

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I guess my Fungus Fudge wouldn’t meet Miss Grimwood’s standards because it doesn’t taste moldy, but I’m more than happy with it. There is a little bit of a mushroomy earthiness to it, but it works really well with the chocolate. If I were on a strict military diet, I’d break it for a piece of this fudge. Colonel Calloway took one bite of Miss Grimwood’s and dropped it, (Right into Matches’ mouth.) but I think he’d like mine. And I know Scooby-Doo would like it too because he had no qualms with the piece he stole from Shaggy. Would you expect anything different?

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!

Witch’s Night Out

Garlic Taffy Apples

Just when I think I’ve watched every animated Halloween episode or special in existence, one more pops up out of nowhere. I’m actually quite happy about that because there really aren’t enough Halloween cartoons out there. The last special to catch my eye is Witch’s Night Out. It originally aired before my time, but I read that it used to be played on The Disney Channel back in the 80’s and 90’s. Let me tell you something. I was practically raised on that channel and I don’t remember seeing it even once. I wish I had watched it years ago because now I feel like I’m late to the Halloween Party. Well, better late than never.

The Witch is kind of in the same boat, even though the big Halloween party takes place in HER mansion. Hey, Goodly didn’t know anyone lived there. He was wary of the place anyway because he feared it was haunted. If he knew about the Witch, he’d never go anywhere near there. As for myself, I’d never throw a party anywhere without the witch. Hands down, the Witch (The Godmother) is my favorite character. She’s so dramatic and the faces and movements she makes are just priceless. If she wants to come to my house to grant me a Halloween wish, my window’s open. (I really don’t want her crashing through it and getting glass everywhere.) Anyway, back to the party. The adults want to make Halloween a meaningful experience, which I stand behind 100%. Kids have it pretty sweet being able to go trick-or-treating, but adults don’t have anything unless they plan it themselves. (It’s an insult to Halloween to say it’s just for children.) So Goodly and the others come up with the idea of having a big party, complete with a ton of guests and food. But maybe he shouldn’t have assigned food duty to Malicious. I can’t deny that she’s got some serious cooking skills. It’s just that her tastes are a bit funky, so she makes the most interesting party hors d’oeuvres. Sardine meringues, pepperoni peppermints, peanut butter corned beef balls, and chocolate gefilte fish all sound absolutely delicious, but nothing gets me more into the Halloween spirit than garlic taffy apples.

Recipe makes 6 taffy apples.

Ingredients

6 large apples

6 sturdy skewers, chopsticks, or craft sticks

Caramel:

2 cups sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

½ cup water

1 cup heavy cream, room temperature

½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature- cut into chunks

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Red food coloring

 

Directions

Thoroughly wash apples and dry completely. Insert the skewers down to the apple cores through the stem ends. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Place over high heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 230 degrees F. Reduce heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until the syrup mixture is golden. When the syrup reaches close to 300 degrees F, gently stir. Continue to cook until the syrup turns dark amber and closes in on 350 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir, and let sit for a couple minutes. Gradually stir in heavy cream, butter, salt, garlic powder, and food coloring. The mixture will bubble, so be careful. Return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and stir until the butter is completely melted and the caramel is smooth. Remove from the heat and allow the caramel to cool to 200 degrees F.

Dip the apples, one at a time, into the caramel and swirl around so the apple is completely coated. Allow the excess caramel to drip back into the saucepan and move the apples to the baking sheet. The caramel will drip down the apple and form “feet.” If the caramel begins to stiffen before you’ve finished dipping apples, return the saucepan to the stove over low heat and warm until smooth again. Chill the apples until the caramel has fully set, 30-60 minutes. Now they’re ready to eat!

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I just couldn’t resist trying garlic taffy apples, and since I’m a garlic lover, I’m actually really into these. They could easily have been a hit at the party. But no matter how well the party was going before the Witch and her monsters (Small, Tender, and Bazooey.) crashed it, it would never’ve become a true Halloween party without them. Not a single guest was in costume. (They think that dressing up is silly and immature, but it’s okay to form an angry mob and chase down monsters.) The Witch was kind enough to point out that every day we go about our lives the same old way, but Halloween is the one day a year we can pretend to be whoever or whatever we want. That may have been an eye opener for the townsfolk, but that’s old news to me. And with witch’s magic on your side, you don’t even have to pretend. I don’t have that luxury, so instead of just “poofing” into whatever I want to be for the night, I’m stuck wrestling with a wig and a dress.

 

Tune in next week for more Cartoon Cravings!