Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wartime Wednesday: Change of Heart and Ham

If you are following along in your Cookbook Casting Call menu for this week, you probably see that today's menu calls for a Wartime Wednesday entree of Surprise Ham Croquettes. But as I got home very late from these excruciating meetings in NYC with a client, the idea of spending an hour in the kitchen AND deep fat frying something on top of it all has led to a change in the menu.

We're still doing Wartime Wednesday, and like the croquettes, this menu change will take advantage of using some of the country ham my freezer is full of and the items in my pantry to keep this meal in line with the winter version of the Pantry Plan.

It seems, as I flipped through the VBotAWCB (Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book), that there are a lot of recipes for various types of main dish loaves using any manner of meat and in a case or two no meats. I suspect this is because main dish loaves make the most of kitchen left overs and being wartime, complete with rationing, that these dishes almost guaranteed no scrap of food would go unused. So, it should be no surprise that there is a recipe for something called Spiced Ham Loaf.

Wartime Wednesday:  Ham Loaf

This recipe is simple beyond belief and contains only seven ingredients: bread crumbs, milk, ground ham, ground pork, brown sugar, cloves, and eggs. Since I didn't have any ground pork unthawed, I skipped using this ingredient. The dish went together in about 10 minutes and was in/out of the oven in less than one hour. Like with the salmon loaf from a few weeks ago, I didn't need a huge loaf, so I reduced the recipe to fit in a mini loaf pan. I paired the hamloaf with some leftover au gratin potatoes from Monday's menu.

Wartime Wednesday: Ham Loaf with Betty Crocker Cookbook Scalloped Potatoes

I have to admit, I wasn't blown away by the ham loaf. In fact, I kind of hated it. It was a bit overpowering on the clove side of things; which reminded me of why I hate seeing cloves stuck in a piece of ham. I had forgotten about that because no one in my family is a huge fan of cloves and ham. The au gratin potatoes were the best part of this meal.

Well, sorta....the butterscotch pudding rocked my world!

Cookbook Casting Call: Betty Crocker Cookbook Butterscotch Pudding

There really is no comparison to real pudding made by standing over a stove and stirring milk, corn starch, eggs and brown sugar and the pudding you get out of the box, even the cooked pudding from a box.

First, there is the incredible pudding skin, that gelatinous film that forms on top of pudding and is probably George Costanza's best food packaging idea. Second, despite the idea that pudding is hard to make, it is really easy and doesn't take much longer than the box type. Finally, there is the creamy taste. Once you make pudding from scratch, I can promise, you will never go back to canned and box pudding again.

Tonight, I'm giving you both recipes because I don't want my dislike of cloves and ham to not give you the chance to try this economical dish and because I also want each and every one of you to have the opportunity to eat the best pudding you will ever have!

Did I mention pudding skins?

Spiced Ham Loaf
From the VBotAWCB

Serves 2

3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup ground ham
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/8 tsp cloves
1 egg

Soften crumbs in milk. Combine ham, sugar, softened bread crumbs, and egg. Mix well and pack into prepared mini loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Butterscotch Pudding
from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, 1986 edition

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
2 cup whole milk (while 2% and even 1% will work for this, trust me, use whole milk. It's dessert for Heaven's sake!)
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

In medium bowl, slightly beat egg yolks and set aside.

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in 2 quart saucepan. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens (about 8 minutes) and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Gradually stir into egg yolks, about 1/2 the hot mixture. Stir tempered egg yolk mixture into saucepan with remaining hot mixture. Boil for about 1 minute and remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into dessert dishes or large serving bowl and refrigerate.

Note: If you want pudding skins, allow pudding to cool for about 10 minutes on counter uncovered. A skin will form that you can peel from the top. You can get a second batch of skins if you leave it on the counter but this second batch of pudding skins isn't as good as the first batch.