Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Wizard of Oz Scrambled Eggs

After Dorothy's little home in Kansas is swept away by a cyclone, she awakes to find herself in the strange and colorful land of the Munchkins. Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy that the Wizard of Oz could help her and her little dog Toto find their way home and sets them off on their journey along the Yellow Brick Road.

Along the way, they meet three new friends who need a little help of their own: the Scarecrow, who wants a brain; the Tin Woodman, who wants a heart; and the Cowardly Lion, who's in desperate need of some courage.

After many adventures, Dorothy, her new friends, and Toto finally reach the Land of Oz and decide to stop at a farmhouse for some supper before visiting the Wizard. This is what author L. Frank Baum originally wrote about what they ate at the farmhouse that day:

The woman now called to them that supper was ready, so they gathered around the table and Dorothy ate some delicious porridge and a dish of scrambled eggs...The Lion ate some of the porridge but did not care for it, saying that it was made of oats and that oats were food for horses, not lions. The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman ate nothing at all. Toto ate a little of everything, and was glad to get a good supper again.

Although no one knows exactly how those scrambled eggs were made that day, you can try this simple recipe, so long as your parents say it's okay:

3 large eggs
6 teaspoons (1 teaspoon for each egg) low-fat milk
3 dashes of salt (1 dash for every two eggs)
1 Tablespoon butter for frying

Heat a large non-stick frying pan to a setting just above medium. A 12-inch pan works well for 6 eggs. Do not add butter yet. We just want get the pan ready. In large metal or glass mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and salt. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.

Melt the butter in the frying pan. As the very last of the butter is liquefying, add the egg mixture. Wait until the first hint of setting begins, then with a spatula or a flat wooden spoon, push eggs toward center.Continue this motion as the eggs continue to set.

Break apart large pieces as they form with your spoon or spatula. You will come to a point where the push-to-center technique is no longer cooking runny parts of the egg. Flip over all the eggs. Allow the eggs to cook 15 to 25 seconds longer. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

QUICK TIP: If you'd like to sing "We're off to see the Wizard" while cooking your scrambled eggs, here are the lyrics:

We're off to see the Wizard
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
We hear he is a Whiz of a Wiz
If ever a Wiz there was
If ever, oh ever, a Wiz there was
The Wizard of Oz is one because
Because, because, because, because, because
Because of the wonderful things he does
We're off to see the wizard
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!

Source: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Queen of Hearts Strawberry Tarts

When Alice followed a little white rabbit into a hole under a hedge, she began falling down what seemed to be a very deep well and suddenly found herself in a strange new place inhabited by many curious people and creatures.

After drinking a potion that made her shrink, she was greeted by the Cheshire Cat who had the habit of slowly disappearing and leaving behind only his grin. She also attended a most unusual tea party with the Mad Hatter and then witnessed the trial of the Knaves of Hearts who had been accused of stealing tarts from the Queen of Hearts. This is how Lewis Carroll described how that very strange trial began:

The King and Queen of Hearts were seated on their throne when they arrived, with a great crowd assembled about them—all sorts of little birds and beasts, as well as the whole pack of cards: the Knave was standing before them, in chains, with a soldier on each side to guard him; and near the King was the White Rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand, and a scroll of parchment in the other.

In the very middle of the court was a table, with a large dish of tarts upon it: they looked so good, that it made Alice quite hungry to look at them—'I wish they'd get the trial done,' she thought, 'and hand round the refreshments!' But there seemed to be no chance of this, so she began looking at everything about her, to pass away the time...

Suddenly, the King shouted, "Herald, read the accusation!" Upon this, the White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet, and then unrolled the parchment scroll, and read as follows: The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts/All on a summer day:
The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts/And took them quite away!

Although no one knows if the Queen of Hearts ever found her tarts, you can probably find some fresh summer strawberries at your local market and make some of these tasty tarts from Martha Stewart. But be careful to store them in a safe place, lest someone tries to steal them away!

For the Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for handling dough
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Filling

1 bar (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 to 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 cup seedless red currant jelly

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, blend flour, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt until moist crumbs form (this may take up to 1 minute). Transfer dough to a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom.

With floured fingers, press dough evenly into pan and up sides. Dip a dry-measuring cup in flour, and use it to press dough firmly into bottom and against sides of pan. Freeze crust until firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a fork, prick crust all over. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes, pressing down gently once or twice with a spoon during baking if crust puffs up. Cool completely in pan.

Make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until smooth; spread mixture evenly in bottom of baked crust (still in tart pan).
Starting from outside edge, arrange strawberry halves, stemmed side down, in tight concentric circles on cream cheese. In a small saucepan, heat jelly on medium-low until liquefied. Gently brush strawberries with jelly; let set at least 20 minutes. Chill in pan at least 1 hour (and up to 6 hours); remove from pan just before serving.

FAST FACT: Alice's Adventures Under Ground was originally published in 1865, three years after the Reverend Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and his colleague Robinson Duckworth had taken three young girls on a leisurely boat ride up the River Thames on a hot summer day. The girls’ names were Lorina, Alice, and Edith, and they were the daughters of Reverend Henry Liddell, who served as the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University where Dodgson was a professor of mathematics.

To pass the time, Dodgson told the girls a story about a bored little girl named Alice who went off looking for an adventure. The girls loved it and Alice late asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He eventually did, and, on November 26, 1864, Dodgson presented Alice with the handwritten manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself. He later showed the tale to his friend George Macdonald, who urged him to publish it. Dodgson then revised and expanded it to nearly twice its original length, adding the episodes about the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Tea-Party.

In 1865, the story was published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by “Lewis Carroll” with illustrations by John Tenniel. The first print of 2,000 copies was withdrawn because Tenniel was not pleased with the quality of print. A new edition was published later that year, but with a print date of 1866. All 2,000 copies quickly sold out, and Alice was a publishing sensation, beloved by children and adults alike. The book has never been out of print and has been translated into more than 125 languages.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Doctor Dolittle Tropical Fruit Salad

When Doctor Dolittle began treating animals instead of people, he became famous throughout the animal kingdom. On his many adventures, the good Doctor befriended Polynesia the parrot, Dab-Dab the duck, Gub-Gub the pig, Jip the dog, and a friendly, two-headed Pushme-Pullyu.

And when he learned of a strange disease among the monkeys in Africa, he sailed there to contain the outbreak. Finally, all the monkeys were healthy again, and Dr. Doolittle told them that his work was done and that it was time for him to go home.

This is how the author Hugh Lofting described Dr. Doolittle's delicious going-away party in the African jungle:

When the packing was finished and everything was ready to start, the monkeys gave a grand party for the Doctor, and all the animals of the jungle came. And they had pineapples and mangoes and honey and all sorts of good things to eat and drink.

After they had all finished eating, the Doctor got up and said, "My friends: I am not clever at speaking long words after dinner, like some men; and I have just eaten many fruits and much honey. But I wish to tell you that I am very sad at leaving your beautiful country. Because I have things to do in the Land of the White Men, I must go. After I have gone, remember never to let the flies settle on your food before you eat it; and do not sleep on the ground when the rains are coming. I—er—er—I hope you will all live happily ever after.

It’s probably safe to say that those monkeys did live happily ever after with so many fresh tropical fruits to consume, and you will be probably feel very happy, too, if you "monkey around" a bit and make this simple and delicious recipe for Tropical Fruit Salad!

3 cups mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
2 cups seedless grapes (red or green)
2 crisp sweet apples, sliced
3 bananas, thinly sliced
3 medium oranges, peeled and diced

Directions: Chop fruit and mix gently in large bowl. Stir well, then serve in small bowls and enjoy!

FAST FACT: The title of the original 1920 book was The Story of Doctor Dolittle: Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts Never Before Printed. The sequel The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922) won the prestigious Newberry Medal. The next three books, Doctor Dolittle's Post Office (1923), Doctor Dolittle's Circus (1924), and Doctor Dolittle's Caravan (1926) are actually prequels, or "midquels", as they take place during or after the events of The Story of Doctor Dolittle. Five more titles followed, and after Lofting's death in 1947, two additional volumes of short unpublished pieces appeared.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Captain Hook Pirate Cake

Peter Pan is an adventurous young boy who can fly and magically refuses to grow up. He spends his exciting, ever-lasting childhood on the imaginary island of Neverland as the leader of the gang of Lost Boys. With his fairy-friend Tinkerbell, Peter lures Wendy and her brothers to Neverland and engages in adventures with mermaids, pirates, Indians, and a crocodile that swallowed an alarm clock.

But the most fearsome character that Peter encounters is Captain Hook, who is bent on revenge because Peter had cut off his arm during a sword fight many years earlier and fed it to the crocodile. To do away with Peter, Captain Hook hatches this wicked plan:

Hook…stood for a long time lost in thought, and at last a curdling smile lit up his swarthy face. Smee had been waiting for it.

"Unrip your plan, captain," he cried eagerly.

"To return to the ship," Hook replied slowly through his teeth, "and cook a large rich cake of a jolly thickness with green sugar on it. There can be but one room below, for there is but one chimney. The silly moles had not the sense to see that they did not need a door apiece. That shows they have no mother. We will leave the cake on the shore of the Mermaids' Lagoon. These boys are always swimming about there, playing with the mermaids. They will find the cake and they will gobble it up, because, having no mother, they don't know how dangerous 'tis to eat rich damp cake." He burst into laughter, not hollow laughter now, but honest laughter. "Aha, they will die."

Like Peter, you’d be wise not to take a bite of a poisonous cake, but you might like to try this wickedly delicious recipe for Captain Hook Pirate Cake. The green sugar frosting is very sweet, so be careful not to eat too much, lest you get a wicked stomach ache!

Cake Ingredients:

1 cup cocoa powder
2 cups boiling water
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans. In a medium bowl, stir the boiling water into the cocoa until smooth, and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and set aside.

At medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Turn mixer down to low speed. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Stir in the vanilla, and do not overbeat.Pour an equal amount of batter into each of the three prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.Cool in pans set on racks for 10 minutes. Invert pans on racks, remove pans, and allow layers to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound (3 1/2 cups) sifted confectioners sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
Green food dye

Directions: Cream butter, salt, and vanilla, beating until light and fluffy. Add sugar gradually, beating after each addition. Add 3 tablespoons milk, beating until smooth. Beat in more milk until desired spreading consistency is reached. Add 4-5 drops of green food dye and stir well. Carefully spread over your cake and say, “Ahoy, matey!”