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Whoopie Pies ~ Ramen Salad Crunchies ~ Sauteed Calves' Liver

By Marlene Parrish, staff writer

Picking only one favorite recipe is like trying to choose between the children. Can't do it. I like them all. Since I have three sons, Tom, Ted and Jack, I pick three recipes.

The scamp of the lot, and this sounds like my Jack, has to be a recipe for Whoopie Pies. These are the lunchbox favorites, soft chocolate cookies sandwiched with fluffy, white filling in the middle. Whoopie pies look just like a yo-yo and are twice as much fun to say. Their texture -- soft cake and gooshy filling -- makes them taste like homemade chocolate Twinkies.

My son Tom is practical and always has a Plan B. He liked this recipe when I sent it to him last summer. Ramen Crunchies is a quick fix for the salad bowl when you've forgotten to make croutons. Just dump the curly noodle package into a plastic bag and whomp it with a tumbler or rolling pin until pieces are in 1/4-inch semicurls. Toss the bits into a saucepan with oil and seasonings and heat until browned. I always have some in a jar in the fridge.

My Teddy always loved sauteed liver as a kid, honest. He was the inspiration for my contribution to Calorie Amnesty Day when the food staff celebrated Leap Year last Feb. 29. The PG got to share recipes for all the good stuff that we've loved over the years but have banished because of the nutrition police.

I still break down the no-no barrier every once a year or so when my husband and I feast on sauteed calves' liver. This has to be one of the great meat delicacies.

The liver is best when it is a little rare in the center and nicely browned on the outside. The only pan to use is a mirror-smooth, cast-iron skillet. Besides a salad and possibly even bacon, I like to serve liver with potatoes of any kind. Sometimes I rinse the skillet with a drop of bourbon, just enough to loosen browned bits from the skillet and mingle with the pan juices. And they call this bad?

Whoopie Pies

Each pie can be individually covered in plastic wrap. Part of the fun of eating them is the rustle and rattle of unwrapping the delicous present.

For the cookies:
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup hot water
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring (optional)

For the filling:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring (optional)
3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
Few drops of milk, if necessary

For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa and salt, then set them aside. In a glass measure, dissolve the baking soda in the hot water, then add the milk and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and flavorings and beat another minute. Stir in half of the dry ingredients, then half of the wet ingredients; repeat.

Drop the batter by heaping teaspoons, about 2 inches apart, on an ungreased cookie sheet. This amount makes 48 cookies or 24 pies. If there is extra batter, distribute it among the smaller heaps of batter. Do not make extra cookies.

Bake the cookies for 8 minutes. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes, then remove to racks to cool thoroughly.

For the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, vegetable shortening and flavorings. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating until fluffy. The frosting is just right for spreading at this point. But if you like a somewhat creamier consistency, slowly add drops of milk until the frosting is to your liking. Remember, if you add milk, it limits the keeping quality at room temperature of the finished product.

Pair up the cookies by size and shape in rows. Place a generous amount of frosting on the flat side of 24 cookies. Do not add the covers yet. If there is extra frosting, add it to those cookies with less filling. The filling should be quite generous. Top each with a second cookie to make 24 sandwich pies.

Wrap the Whoopie Pies individually in plastic wrap or place them in a single layer on a platter. Don't stack them as they tend to stick. They freeze well.

To freeze, wrap each Whoopie Pie in plastic wrap. Loosely pack them in a plastic freezer container and cover tightly. To serve, defrost the wrapped Whoopie Pies for 5 hours or longer in the refrigerator. Serve cool or at room temperature. Makes 24.

Ramen Salad Crunchies

1 package ramen noodles
Few pinches seasoning from the packet
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salad greens and raw vegetables

Use the bottom of a glass tumbler to bash on the unopened noodle package until the noodles are well broken.

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add broken noodles and a pinch or two of seasoning from the packet. Toss and turn until noodles are golden but not brown. Cool. Sprinkle generously over salad greens.

Sauteed Calves' Liver

1 pound, scant, thinly sliced liver, about 3/8-inch
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onion, optional
1/4 cup chopped parsley, optional
Crisp bacon for garnish

Heat a heavy skillet until a drop of water dances across its surface. Heat the butter and olive oil together until the butter stops foaming. Dip the liver slices into the flour, shake them off and saute them quickly, allowing about 1 minute per side. The slices should be crispy brown on the outside, but pink in the center.

Salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with green onion and parsley if you wish and serve with the pan juices poured over them.

Thursday, January 04, 2001

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