Nov. 26, 2013 05:50

Shining bright with my life-saving stand mixer

"I want either a five-carat diamond pendant or a KitchenAid mixer. If I can't have either of these, then please do not give me anything."

I repeated request this to my husband for several months and that's how I finally got a cobalt blue KitchenAid mixer for Christmas in 1996. How did I ever manage this household without one?

I come from a foodie family for whom making and baking from scratch is expected , not revered. I am no stranger to batters and all sorts of other recipes that require mixing muscles. This counter top appliance gave me an even better boost than I had expected - it saves time.

It also keeps my hands clean. I can't stand gunky hands. Kneading dough is not for me. Neither is mixing ground beef or lamb with seasonings for meatballs, hamburgers, kibbe or whatever.

Time is usually what I need to save the most because our gatherings - holiday or other - can be spontaneous.

And my big blue boy sure saves me time.

For instance, at 9:30 p.m. on a recent Wednesday night, I invited the members of Sweet Plantain (the quartet that had just wrapped a performance for PASA) as well as some ACA staffers over for breakfast the next morning. They were set to arrive at 8:30 a.m. and I planned to make waffles. I got out the ingredients, did my little prep, turned on the mixer, dumped in the dry ingredients, and then the other stuff. I got out my second mixing bowl and second wire beater and whipped the egg whites. I use the Maryland Cream waffles recipe from the long-standing and always reliable Junior League of Lafayette cookbook, Talk About Good.

Because my waffle iron cooks only one at a time, at 8:10 a.m. I decided to have something other than coffee and bacon ready when the group arrived. I heated the oven and turned to my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook for my favorite biscuit recipe, turned on the mixer, and then dumped the ingredients into the bowl. Hot biscuits were ready precisely as my guests arrived at 8:40 a.m

I'm a little famous in some circles for my homemade beignets - and you can be, too. Find the recipe on page 44 of that same Junior League cookbook - it's credited to my mom, but I happen to know she clipped it out of the Beaumont Enterprise sometime before I turned ten.

No longer am I beating in 7 cups of flour by hand. I follow my standard procedure: ingredient prep, start up my mixer with the wire whisk attachment, then swap to the dough hook after adding the fifth cup of flour. What used to take about 45 minutes now takes about 20.

Caution: this dough takes several hours to rise, so if your daughter's friends ask for beignets in the morning, be sure to mix them before you go to sleep. Believe me, you'll need your daughter's friends or a lot of holiday guests to eat these goodies because this recipe makes plenty. Note: The dough can be frozen, if your guests peter out.

Homemade cakes are a breeze. Cookies are quick. A big batch bread recipe can be morphed into homemade cinnamon rolls, a king cake or just about anything else - I'll share the big batch recipe courtesy of Nancy Kelly if you message me on Facebook.

One note: Being a self-proclaimed pie-maker extraordinaire and all, I can advise there is no substitute for handmade pie crust.

So, from my grandmother's head to mine, and now to yours:

Jackie Richard's Pie Crust

2 c. flour, plus a extra for dusting the rolling surface
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. shortening
1/4 c. water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, mix 2 cups of flour with the salt. Using two table knives or a pastry cutter, cut in 1/3 cup of shortening until the texture is approaching that of coarse cornmeal. Next, cut in the remaining 1/3 cup of shortening until the texture is the size of small marbles. Pour in the water. Combine the water with a fork just until the water is absorbed. You'll think that you need to mix the dough more, but resist. Sprinkle a little flour on a flat surface. Shape half of the dough into a loose ball (yucky hands are unavoidable) and roll out with a rolling pin until the dough is about 3/16 inch thick and large enough to line a pie plate. You'll have enough dough for two lemon meringue pies, two pecan pies or for one two-crust fruit or crawfish pie. For lemon meringue pies, bake the crust for approximately 11 minutes or until golden before filling. The Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook pie section can take you all the way through the process.

[Author's note: For a special treat, save left-over pie crust dough, roll it out, cut it into 3/4 inch wide strips, separate the dough strips on an ungreased cookie sheet, sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar and bake about 6 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool before snacking. Happy Holidays!]

My friend Renee Ventroy during her first cake making lesson the KitchenAid way

Read the flipping paper