I'm looking for a recipe for "dirty rice." Can you help?
Pam Detterlbach, Springfield, Va.
"Dirty rice" is a Cajun dish traditionally made with cooked rice, ground chicken (or turkey) livers and gizzards, onions, bell peppers, bacon fat and garlic or cayenne pepper. There are dozens of Louisianan and Cajun cookbooks that we could recommend, but maybe someone has a real tried-and-true family recipe.
If you have a version of dirty rice or have your own recipe request, contact us. (See address and e-mail information below.)
The Disappearing Cake
Last week we received an S.O.S. call from Ben Fassberg, a reader in Bethesda desperate for a cake recipe that appeared in Food last fall. He remembered that the cake called for butterscotch chips and cinnamon and that, when he baked it for friends, it disappeared almost instantly. Unfortunately, so did his recipe.
Here's the recipe that was so good it kept Fassberg searching high and low for months; it's one of about 200 recipes found in Marcy Goldman's "A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking" (Doubleday, 1998).
Goldman calls this "just about the best cake to come out of my test kitchen," which is saying quite a bit considering her reputation as an outstanding baker. She points out that this cake is "rich and buttery-tasting (although butter-free), moist, flavorful and a good keeper."
Incredible Cinnamon Chip Cake
(10 to 12 servings)
For the cinnamon chip paste:
1/3 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil plus additional for the pan
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
For the cake:
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 cup water or orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously oil a 10-inch springform or a 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Line the pan bottom with parchment paper.
For the cinnamon chip paste: Combine the nuts, if using, with the brown sugar, oil, vanilla, cinnamon and butterscotch chips in a food processor and grind for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is combined but still coarse. You can also put these ingredients in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Set aside.
For the cake: Using a wire whisk or an electric mixer and a large bowl, blend together the oil, sugar, eggs, water or orange juice and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture. This produces a wet, somewhat loose batter.
Spoon all but a couple of tablespoons of the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the cinnamon chip paste all over the batter, taking care not to concentrate the topping in the center (this could cause the middle to sink during baking). Cover the topping with the remaining batter--it will not cover it all, but it will bake into an interesting pattern.
Bake for 45 minutes in a cake pan or 60 to 70 minutes in a springform pan. The top will be just firm to the touch and will look slightly crusty, with bits of melted topping peeking through. The center may dip a bit; this is fine. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing it to a rack.
Variation: Substitute chocolate chips for the butterscotch and omit the cinnamon.
Per serving (based on 12, without optional nuts, using water): 448 calories, 5 gm protein, 68 gm carbohydrates, 18 gm fat, 53 mg cholesterol, 3 gm saturated fat, 222 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber
Send your recipe question (or your answer to a reader's question) to: Prince George's Food, The Washington Post, 14402 Old Mill Rd., Suite 201, Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772. Or e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.