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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sour Cherry Cobbler (with adjustments for altitude)

For the last few summers a friend has generously shared the harvest from her sour cherry tree with me. This is one of the joys of the season.


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Sour Cherry Cobbler (with adjustments for altitude)


Source: Cook's Illustrated
Serves: 12--however I halved the recipe and cooked enough for 6

For altitudes of around 4000-5800 feet I suggest the following adjustments to the biscuits:

add 2 T flour
subtract 1 teas sugar
use a scant teas baking soda

For the biscuits:

2 c unbleached flour
6 T granulated sugar
1/2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas table salt
6 T unsalted butter (cold), cut into half-inch cubes
2 T granulated sugar for sprinkling
1 c buttermilk

For the fruit filling:

4 pds sour cherries, (about 8 cups)
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
3 1/2 T cornstarch
pinch table salt
1 c dry red wine
cranberry juice (if needed)
1 3-in cinnamon stick
1/4 teas almond extract


Prepare cherries:

Pit the cherries and reserve the juices. Stir sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a large bowl; add the cherries and stir again until well combined. Pour the red wine over the cherries and allow to stand for 30 minutes at least.

Par cook the biscuits:

Preheat the oven to 425F with the rack in the middle position. Use a silicone baking pad or parchment paper to line a baking sheet.

In a food processor place flour, 6 T sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and pulse until combined. Add the butter cubes evenly over the top and pulse about 15 times until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Place this mixture into a bowl and pour the buttermilk over. Toss with a rubber spatula until combined. Divide the dough into 12 equal biscuits on the baking sheet. This is easiest using a 1 1/2 inch spring-loaded ice cream scoop but can be achieved using a couple of serving spoons. Space them 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart on the baking sheet and sprinkle evenly with the 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until lightly browned on top and bottom. Remove from oven and set aside. Leave oven on.

Make the cobbler:

Pour cherry mixture into a colander set over another medium-sized bowl and drain. Measure the drained and reserved juices; you should have collected 3 cups. If the combined juices don't equal that amount add cranberry juice. (I used some raspberry juice and think you could also use grape juice in a pinch.) Place the juices into a saucepan, add the cinnamon stick, and heat over medium-high and cook until mixture thickens, whisking frequently. When thickened remove cinnamon stick, add the almond extract.

Spread the drained cherries into a  9X13 pan. Pour the hot, thickened juices over the cherries in the pan and use a spatula to even it out. Place the biscuits on top of the cherries and filling in 3 rows of 4 each. Place the cobbler in the oven and bake until biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 10-15 minutes. Remove and cool for 10 minutes before serving.


Notes:

If you are going to use frozen, pitted cherries you need less than 4 pounds, closer to 3 1/2 pounds.

It was late one night when I first started this recipe and I hadn't realized the resting time for the cherries so I mixed the cherries and sauce and and rested them in the refrigerator not for 30 minutes but overnight. This worked fine.

My food processor bowl has to be washed by hand so I get lazy about using it sometimes. I have found that I can grate well chilled or frozen butter into the dry ingredients of this biscuit and mix all together with a fork. I think it works just as well and the bowl and grater can go into the dishwasher.

Cook's Illustrated suggests using a glass baking pan. I can't see why it's necessary and found my metal pan worked fine.


Friday, April 19, 2019

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Loaf (with altitude adjustments)

I have been guilty of procrastibaking when it comes to this recipe. The tang of the sour cream and the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate nicely offset the sweetness in the bread.



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Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Loaf


Source: How to Celebrate Everything by Jenny Rosenstrach

Changes needed for altitudes of 4000-5500 feet above sea level:
     add 2 T flour
     reduce baking soda to 1 teas
     reduce granulated sugar by scant 1 T

2 eggs
2/3 c sugar
1/2 teas vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/4 teas baking powder
1 1/4 teas baking soda
1 teas salt
1/2 c butter, melted
1 1/3 c sour cream
3/4 c dark chocolate chips
1/3 c roughly chopped walnuts

Cinnamon sugar:
1/4 c sugar
3/4 ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 375F. Butter a standard loaf pan. Assemble the cinnamon sugar.

Beat the eggs until frothy in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla, then beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

Add the melted butter and the sour cream to the egg mixture and beat until combined. Next add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, a spoonful at a time, and beat just until smooth. Then fold in the chocolate chips. 

Spread half the batter in the prepared loaf pan, and sprinkle with about two thirds of the cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle with the walnuts. Then add the remaining batter and spread it evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the loaf completely on a rack before slicing.

Note from Colette:

At my altitude, nearly 5000 feet, I used 1 teas baking powder and 3/4 teas baking soda

Monday, March 25, 2019

Cornish Pasties

I visited Cornwall and ate a pasty there but I also lived (for 4 cold winters and admittedly pleasant summers) in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where generations earlier Cornish iron miners imported this dish. It's long been a  regional favorite. I visited the U.P. last summer and with the help of the internet found several of the best pasties available in the area. This recipe tastes just like those.




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Cornish Pasties


Makes 6 big hand pies; some diners can eat only half

For the crust:

2/3 c sour cream, chilled
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 c unbleached flour
1 3/4 teas salt
16 T unsalted butter, cut in half-inch pieces and chilled

For the filling:

1 T unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
salt and pepper
1 T minced fresh thyme or 1 teas dried
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 pd skirt steak, trimmed and cut into 1/2-in pieces
10 oz. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-in pieces
10 oz. rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-in pieces
1/4 c unbleached flour

For the egg wash:

1 large egg
2 teas water

Cook's Country points out that you can use turnips for rutabagas and if you can't find skirt steak substitute with 1 1/2 pounds blade steak which will require more trimming so it needs an extra quarter pound. 

For the crust:  

Mix the sour cream and egg, whisking in a small bowl. Place the flour and salt in a food processor and run for about 3 seconds. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until pea-size pieces remain. Pour in about half the sour cream mixture and pulse about 5 times until combined. Pour in the remaining sour cream and process again until the dough begins to form a mass, about 15 pulses.

Remove from processor to a lightly floured counter and knead until the dough comes together. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a disk, about 6 inches in diameter. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes. (The dough can be made ahead and kept in the fridge about 24 hours but allow it to sit out for 15 minutes before attempting to roll out.)

For the filling:

In a 10-inch skillet at medium heat melt the butter and add the onion and 1/4 teas salt. Cook until the onion has softened. Add the thyme and garlic and cook and stir about 30 seconds until fragrant. Let this mixture cool somewhat, around 5 minutes. In a large bowl, stir the beef, potatoes, rutabaga, and onion mixture together. Add 1 1/2  teas salt, 3/4 teas pepper and stir. Then stir in the flour and toss the mixture to coat. 

To cook:

Preheat the oven to 375F and place the rack at upper-middle position. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet (18X12). Divide the filling into 6 equal portions on a plate or tray (1 cup or more) and remove the dough from the fridge. Cut it in 6 equal portions (about 5 oz each).

On a pastry cloth or floured counter roll one portion of dough into an oval about 8 by 10 inches approximately 1/8 inch thick. Put a portion of filling on the bottom half of the dough making sure to leave half an inch or more along the edge to seal. Use water to moisten the edges of the dough and fold over the top to form a half-moon shape. Press the dough around the filling to adhere and press down on the edges to seal.

Trim ragged edges away and crimp edges to seal or pinch and twist diagonally between your thumb and forefinger.  Or you can seal with the tines of a fork. Place on baking sheet to rest while you repeat with remaining 5 portions of dough. You may place them on the sheet horizontally with three in each of two rows. (If you want to freeze any or all of the pasties they can be placed in the freezer until solid and then placed in a zippered bag for up to a month. When it comes time to cook, place in 350F oven and cook for 65-70 minutes. You'll want to remember to brush with an egg wash just before baking.)

With a paring knife cut 2 vent holes in the top of each pastie. Whisk the egg with 2 teas water and use a pastry brush to brush this mixture on each pastie (it's best not to use the egg wash if you are freezing them). Place in oven and bake about 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and you can see the filling bubbling up through vent holes. Rotate the pasties half way through cooking. When done place pasties on a wire rack and allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving. 

Notes:

Don't try to save time by chopping ingredients in larger chunks, particularly in case of the beef, because it may not cook through. I will try to chop meat in the food processor next time. 

When I froze half of these they were no different from those I cooked immediately after preparation. This would be a great make-ahead meal. 


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Kenji's Easy Butter Pie Crust

Last week, for Pi day, my department at work held a pie party, celebrating the end of a long, time-intensive project. I've never managed a pie for Pi day, but I decided this would be the year. And I was desperately avoiding a trip to the store, so ended up looking for all butter pie crust recipes. I've wanted a good one for a while, due to flavor and also a desire to avoid partially hydrogenated oils. This recipe lived up to the "easy" in its name, both in mixing and rolling, and it was definitely flaky and butter-flavored. You can see that it was popular, too!



pie crust cookies, of course

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Kenji's Easy Butter Pie Crust


Source: Serious Eats https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/07/easy-pie-dough-recipe.html
Also, check out the step-by-step pictures here: https://www.seriouseats.com/2015/10/how-to-make-pie-dough-step-by-step-slideshow.html. They helped me figure out when to stop the food processor.

Yields two crusts

2 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 T sugar
1 teas kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cold
6 T cold water

Add the sugar, salt, and 1 3/4 c flour to a food processor bowl, and pulse a couple of times to combine.

Cut the butter into 1/4-inch pats and then add to the food processor. Use a number of short pulses until the dough starts to form clumps and the flour has been incorporated entirely. The original recipe said about 25 pulses; I did at least 50 because my dough wasn't clumping yet. Redistribute the dough in the processor, then add the remaining 3/4 c flour. Pulse a few times until the dough is broken up.

Place the dough in a bowl, and sprinkle with water. Fold and press with a rubber spatula, until it all comes together in a ball. Divide the ball in two and form disks from the two pieces. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours before rolling.

Grandma Betty's Rhubarb Crunch

Spring is around the corner--I have rhubarb leaves breaking through the soil.


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Grandma Betty's Rhubarb Crunch 


Adapted from my mom's recipe
Yield: an 8X8 pan

1 1/4 pd rhubarb, cut into half-inch pieces (about 5 1/2-6 cups)
1 c old fashioned oatmeal
1 c flour (I like to use wheat but you can use all-purpose)
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c salted butter
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 teas cinnamon
1 T water
1/4-1/2 c chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 350F. 

Mix oatmeal, flour, and brown sugar in a bowl and cut in butter until crumbly. (I like to grate frozen butter into these ingredients). Pat 1/2 of the mixture into the bottom of the 8X8 pan that has been buttered. Add sliced rhubarb to pan and top it with the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and water. (If you prefer you can mix the sugar and cinnamon together before sprinkling it over the rhubarb.) Mix the chopped nuts into the remaining crumble mixture and spread over the sugared rhubarb.

Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Rotate the pan at about the halfway point and check it at about 35 minutes to ensure the crumble topping isn't scorching (if it is, top it loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil). Use a fork to test that the rhubarb is tender. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Eat as is or serve with ice cream, whipped cream, Greek yogurt, or pour some unsweetened cream over the top. 

Note: The original recipe calls for 1/2 c granulated sugar. This is just too sweet for me, but if you find rhubarb overly tart, you may want to use that amount of sugar.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

One-pot Black-eyed Pea and Sausage Soup with Kale

I'm a fan of black-eyed peas and have them in the shell stage in my freezer most of the time. I've not cooked this recipe using the dried legume but I trust the source of this recipe.

Black-eyed peas are delicious with pork and with greens. This soup would be great with any green but spinach (unless you add it at the last minute) so if you don't have kale you can use chard or collard greens. Chard will take less time to cook than kale so add it later.



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One-pot Black-eyed Pea and Sausage Soup with Kale


Adapted from: seriouseats.com
Serves: 6

1 T oil, olive or vegetable
12 oz andouille sausage, cut into quarter inch slices (or another sausage if this is too hot)
6 oz salt pork or slab bacon (or regular if that's what you have) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large leek,white and pale green parts only, cleaned and finely chopped (about 1 1/2 c)
1 large onion, finely diced (about 1 1/2 c)
2 ribs celery, finely diced (about 1 c)
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped (about 1 c)
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional or to taste)
1/2 teas red pepper flakes (optional, depending on spiciness of sausage)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (or minced in a garlic press, if you're in a hurry)
1 pd dried black-eyed peas
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
chopped parsley, as a garnish, (optional)

In a Dutch oven heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in sausage and salt pork and cook until browned. Add leeks, onion, celery, green pepper, jalapeno (if using), red pepper flakes, and garlic. Cook about 10 minutes, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the Dutch oven.

Add the black-eyed peas, chicken broth, and bay leaves and a bit of salt and pepper (you can add more later--remember the sausage, salt pork, and broth are all salted). Cover the black-eyed peas with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat but keep simmering until the black-eyed peas are tender, 45-75 minutes. This will depend on the size of the peas and their age. When the peas are getting close (try one--you should have some resistance but nothing hard) add the kale and cover until it has wilted--you might have to do this in batches. Cook until the kale is tender and the black-eyed peas are done.

Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper if needed. This can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

If you use black-eyed peas in the shell stage, they will only need 35-45 minutes of cooking so you may want to add the kale a little sooner. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Oranges in Caramel Sauce





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Oranges in Caramel Sauce

Serves 8 and can be easily halved

8-9 oranges, navel or cara cara oranges or a combination, blood oranges make a nice visual contrast
1 c granulated sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 T butter

Juice 2 of the oranges to yield 3/4 c of juice. I'd advise straining orange pulp out especially if you use cara cara oranges which tend to leave a lot of pulp behind  If this reduces the amount of juice you have left, squeeze some more and add another orange for slicing.

Cut the ends off the remaining oranges and stand each orange on end and cut off the peels and pith. You may notice from the photo that I only peeled mine because the white edges of the oranges don't bother me and I wanted to preserve as much of each orange as possible. Slice the oranges thinly and lay them overlapping somewhat in a 9X13 pan or casserole dish. 

In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, 1/4 c of the orange juice and the cinnamon sticks. Over medium-high heat bring this to a boil and cook, swirling the pan occasionally. The sugar will begin to color around the edges. The bubbling sugar will change from frothy and thin to shiny and thick. At this point reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture is coppery-brown in color, swirling often.

Off heat add the butter and stir constantly until melted. Splash a small amount of the remaining juice in and stir until smooth. The mixture will bubble and steam when the juice joins the caramel. Add the rest of the juice and whisk until completely mixed in. If the caramel sticks to the pan and separates, return it to the heat and simmer until the hard, toffee-like caramel dissolves. When smooth, pour the sauce evenly over the oranges and cover the dish. Place in the fridge for 3 hours.

I like serving this with plain Greek yogurt but you might like it with some ricotta cheese or even vanilla ice cream. 

Note:

I had some trouble with crystallization when I made this. I'm not sure whether it was caused by altitude or weather, but each can impact candy making (and caramel is candy). I added extra juice earlier than called for and cooked it until it was fully caramel colored. I used a small strainer to pour the sauce through to catch any sugar lumps that hadn't fully dissolved.