Tag Archives: picnic

This is not a blog post*

I’m fairly certain that only three words are necessary here: Gooey Butter Cake.

If I were you, I’d skip all the way to the bottom of this post, straight to the recipe.

Let’s be honest, you’re not going to miss much.

I’ll wax rhapsodic for a while about how, as I was cooking, I kept sneaking tastes of the cake until I was concerned that I might not be hungry at all when my main dish was ready. Then, I might make a joke.

I’ll tell you about how, some sort of alchemy happens when the cake bakes, so, despite the short ingredient list, there’s a rich and deep flavor. Think cotton candy mixed with creme brulee. If you didn’t know what went into the cake—butter, sugar, flour; the basics, really—you would think that it had to have a secret ingredient. Your guests will. Indeed, this is one of those things like whole wheat chocolate chip cookies or the bacon pizza at the Famous Ray’s on 9th Avenue in Chelsea where the sum is better than its parts. I’ll go on a little bit about this.

And, after a few paragraphs, I’ll ultimately conclude that, while everything I’ve said is true, it also simply doesn’t do justice to St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. It’s one of those things that you really just have to try yourself.

So, what are you waiting for?

*With apologies to René Magritte.

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
Recipe courtesy of
The New York Times

For the Cake:
3 TBS Whole Milk, at room temperature
1 3/4 tsps active dry yeast
6 TBS unsalted butter at room temperature
3 TBS granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping:
3 TBS plus 1 tsp light corn syrup
2 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
12 TBS (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup plus 3 TBS all-purpose flour

In a small bowl, mix milk with 2 tablespoons warm water. Add yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. Mixture should foam slightly.

Cream butter, sugar and salt. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Beat dough on medium speed until it forms a smooth mass and pulls away from sides of bowl, 7 to 10 minutes.

Press dough into an ungreased 9-by 13-inch baking dish at least 2 inches deep. Cover dish with plastic wrap, set in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven is heating, prepare the topping. In a small bowl, mix corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.

Spoon topping in large dollops over risen cake and use a spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes; cake will rise and fall in waves and have a golden brown top, but will still be liquid in center when done.

Makes 16-20 servings


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Filed under Cookies, Dessert

The Second Annual Indian Summer Picnic

This what 17 pounds of pork looks like.

I think that it’s safe to say that I tend to get a little carried away.

And, so the Second Annual Indian Summer Picnic was a little bigger than the first.

Owing to bad time management skills on my part (a recurring theme here, it seems), it was a race to the finish to get everything on the table. In fact, if not for the help of my friend Andrea, who I’ve mentioned here before, it might not have happened.

Within an hour or so, eight pounds of pork were consumed and two wine glasses were broken. I’d say that’s a sign of a successful dinner.

Onto the menu:

Pulled Pork, with barbecue sauce
Baked Macaroni and Cheese

White Bread
Garlic Pickles
Fennel Slaw
Four Bean Salad
Truffled Green and Yellow Beans, courtesy of Abbey

To drink:
Concord Grape Vodka Lemonade

Buttermilk Pralines
St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
Apple Pie, courtesy of Abbey (Check out the pig shaped vent on the top crust!)

Expect recipes soon.

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Filed under Cookies, Dessert

Just Add Crunch

Right. A while back I told you about pulled pork, mentioning that it didn’t need much, just some white bread and slaw.

The problem is when it comes to slaw, I’m as finicky an eater as there is. Despite trying it countless times, I simply cannot bring myself to like mayonnaise. And, as I searched for mayo-less recipes, one thing became quickly apparent: I would have to make my own.

I know, I know, my life is so hard.

This slaw is fantastic with the pork, not least because the dressing gets its acidic kick from mustard—an ingredient that’s featured in the dry rub of the meat and the accompanying sauce. The apples, right in season at present, play off the classic pork and apple combination as well, bringing it to a different level.

That said, there’s no reason not to serve this at all your (indoor) picnics.

Cabbage and Apple Slaw

1 head of green cabbage, shredded
4 gala apples, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 TBS and 1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1.5 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS honey
2 TBS red wine vinegar

Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl of ice water with 1 TBS salt and all to sit at least 30 minutes.

Strain the cabbage and spin in a salad spinner until it is completely dry.

In a large bowl, combine the Dijon mustard, honey, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper and whisk it all together. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Add the cabbage and apples to the dressing and toss until well combined. All the slaw to sit at least 15 minutes prior to serving to all all of the flavors to meld together.

Makes approximately 8 cups

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Filed under Vegetables

The Best Laid Plans

Conventional wisdom holds that it’s best to try out a recipe before cooking it for company. I tend to agree. But, sometimes it just can’t be avoided.

Case in point, in my case (now there’s a mouthful): slow cooked pork shoulder.

The truth is, I had slow cooked pork once before, but it was a different recipe, and I was acting as the sous chef. In that instance the title really meant that I fetching ingredients, going so far as to make a New Year’s morning trip to the local grocery store. So, yeah, not much kitchen time after all.

But, I had wanted to cook up a summer picnic since sometime in the Spring. As with anything, the best laid plans sometimes get derailed by living. I was determined not to let this one go. However, as I live alone, testing out a recipe that calls for 5-7 pounds of meat seemed an unrealistic proposition.

I was going to have to wing it on this one and hope against hope that I didn’t screw it up.

I’m happy to report that it was a resounding success. The trick here is letting low heat and time do the bulk of the work for you. There’s some prep work—a dry rub that can be applied up to the day before.

And, you’ll have to pull it. But that’s quick work since, by the time you’re at this step, the meat will have almost fallen off of the bone. Besides, by that point, all of your guests will have arrived, to keep you entertained while you put the finishing touches on the dinner.

This pork doesn’t need much. Just some barbecue sauce (see note below), white bread, and slaw. I’ll be posting a recipe for slaw in the next few days, so check back.

Pulled Pork

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence

The biggest change that I made to this recipe was to double up the rub and use a mix of cayenne and paprika to make the pork a little spicier. I also served the barbecue sauce on the side, rather than mixing it in with the pulled pork. I thought the meat was plenty tender on its own, so didn’t need nearly as much sauce on it as the recipe suggests. Since that’s a matter of personal preference, I’m including the recipe here. Florence suggests you mix half of the sauce with the pulled pork from the get go and use the rest to moisten as needed.

4 TBS paprika
3 TBS cayenne pepper
2 TBS garlic powder
2 TBS dark brown sugar
2 TBS dry mustard
6 TBS kosher salt
6-8 pound pork shoulder

Trim excess fat off of the pork shoulder and pat dry.

In a small bowl mix the paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt together and combine to form a rub. Spread the spice rub all over the pork and marinate, covered, at least one hour and up to overnight.

When you are ready to cook the pork, preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the pork in a roasting pan and bake it for approximately 6 hours. The pork will be ready when its falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the pork roast from the oven and allow it to rest at least ten minutes. While the pork is still warm, pull the meat into shreds using two forks. Hold one form in place and use the other to pull the meat away.

Serve the shredded pork with barbecue sauce (recipe follows), white bread and slaw.

Serves twelve

Barbecue Sauce

1.5 cups cider vinegar
1 cup mustard (I used Dijon)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer, stirring for at least ten minutes until the sugar dissolves and the sauce becomes thick. Take off of the heat and allow to cool to just above room temperature.

Serves twelve


Filed under Meat

The First Annual Indian Summer Picnic

The first supper club—and first annual Indian Summer Picnic—was a resounding success!

Stay tuned for recipes in the upcoming weeks. For now, here’s the menu:

Pulled Pork with homemade barbecue sauce
White Bread
Baked Beans
Cabbage and Apple Slaw
Garlic Pickles
Macaroni and Cheese
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Pie
Cherry Calfoutis

To drink: Porter (a nod to the fall)
Boozy Arnold Palmers


Filed under Etc.