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Pie Crust Cookie Search

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Joanne Chang's Maple-Blueberry Scones

Earlier this year I made a purchase that serves as a cautionary tale when shopping at Costco when you have children. My three-year-old had been happily devouring frozen blueberries, requesting them for snacks repeatedly. I finally decided to purchase a huge Costco bag, when he abruptly decided he didn't like frozen blueberries anymore. This is one recipe that has helped make a dent in my stash. 

The whole wheat flour in these scones provides pleasing heft and a nutty flavor, both of which cuts the sweetness of the maple. Though these are nice anytime, they would also be perfect for any special occasion or holiday. 






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 Joanne Chang's Maple-Blueberry Scones

Source: New York Times Cooking
Yield: 8 scones

For baking at altitudes of 4000-5500 feet, make the measurements for both leaveners scant. 

Scones:

1 2/3 c whole-wheat flour
1 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas kosher salt
3/4 c unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold, cut into half inch pieces
1/2 c créme fraîche, Greek yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 c maple syrup
1/3 c buttermilk, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 c fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed by running under water for a few minutes and then dried in paper towels)

Using a paddle attachment in a stand mixer, mix the flours, baking powder, soda, and salt on low speed just long enough to mix them together. Put half the butter into the bowl and paddle until it is completely mixed into the flour, about 2-3 minutes. This step allows the butter to coat the flour so the scones will be tender. 

Add the rest of the butter to the bowl and pulse your mixer 3-4 times to break the cubes up a bit into the dough. You're trying to get small pieces of butter, which will keep the scones flakey. Don't overmix.

Mix the créme fraîche, maple syrup, buttermilk and egg yolk in a medium bowl until they are thoroughly mixed. Pour in the blueberries and gently stir. With the stand mixer on low, pour the blueberry mixture into the flour mixture and paddle on low for approximately 10 seconds as you get some of the liquid mixed into the flour. At this point, stop the mixer and remove the bowl so you can mix the dough by hand. Bring the dough together and lift it, turning it over in the bowl several times while getting all the loose flour mixed in. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour to 24 hours. The flour will fully absorb the liquid during this time.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F and place the rack in the center. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Use an ice cream scoop or a half cup measure to scoop 8 mounds of chilled dough. Place them a few inches apart on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, turning the sheet halfway through the baking time. The scones are done when they are golden brown and firm when you press on them.

Remove and place pan on a cooling rack. While they are still warm, brush with the glaze (below) and let sit 30 minutes before serving. 

Glaze:

1/2 c confectioners' sugar
2-3 T maple syrup

In a small bowl mix together the sugar and maple syrup using enough syrup to make a thick but spreadable mixture. Set aside until the scones are out of the oven. This can be store for up to a week at room temperature but whisk before using. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Cowboy Cookie Bars

When I finished baking fruit desserts this fall, I wanted something chewy and full of chocolate. The source recipe caught my eye, and it became my go-to cookie for a few months. Adding pecans made them reminiscent of cowboy cookies, but in a convenient, thick, and chewy bar. 



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Cowboy Cookie Bars

Adapted slightly from https://www.melskitchencafe.com/oatmeal-chocolate-chip-coconut-cookie-bars/
Yields a 9x13 pan, but the recipe can be doubled and baked in a 13x18 sheet pan for feeding a crowd

Notes for baking at about 4,500 feet:

add 1 T and 1 scant T flour
reduce the sugar by 1 1/3 T
add 1/2 teas vanilla

These high altitude changes result in a stiff dough, so much that I strongly recommend using a stand mixer. 

3/4 c rolled oats
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
3/4 c salted butter, melted
1 1/3 c packed brown sugar (light, dark, or a mix)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teas vanilla
3/4 c unsweetened coconut flakes
2 c dark chocolate chips
1 c pecans, chopped

Heat oven to 350F. Line a metal 9x13 pan with parchment paper and spray it lightly with cooking spray. 

Pulse the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a blender until the oats are finer than quick oats but not as fine as flour. 

Mix the butter, brown sugar, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla in a stand mixer until the batter lightens a bit in color. Add the dry ingredients and combine, then add the coconut, chocolate chips, and nuts. 

Press the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for about 20 minutes until set around the edges but still slightly soft in the center. Be careful not to overbake. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Cheddar Cheese Rounds

These crispy appetizers are a mix between a cracker and a short bead and seem so much like a cheesy pie crust cookie that I adore them.



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Cheddar Cheese Rounds


Yield: about 5 dozen

1/4 c pecans
1 1/4 c AP flour
1 T cornstarch
2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 T unsalted butter (1 stick) cut in half-inch slices and softened
1/4 teas cayenne pepper
1/2 teas salt

Place the pecans, flour, and cornstarch in a work bowl of a food processor and run it until the pecans are finely ground. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and pulse until a dough forms. Pull the dough out onto a lightly floured counter or pastry cloth and roll into two logs about 8 inches long. Wrap these in plastic and place in the refrigerator until they firm up, between 1-3 hours or up to 3 days if necessary. 

Place the oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put parchment paper on two baking sheets. When the dough is chilled, slice each log into 1/4-inch rounds and place them 3/4 inch apart on the covered baking sheets. Cook until golden, approximately 15 minutes, rotating and switching the sheets so the crackers can cook evenly. Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for about 3 minutes and remove to a rack and let cool completely. Serve. (Rounds can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.)

These can be made ahead by wrapping the logs in plastic, then in foil and freezing for up to one month. These should be defrosted in the refrigerator before slicing and baking 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Breakfast Casserole

For years, off and on, I've been searching for a tasty and simple breakfast casserole. This year's Christmas morning attempt will definitely be repeated next year because it's low carb and easy to throw together. And for an extra bonus, I am likely to have the ingredients on hand because of our Christmas Eve taco dip tradition. Maybe one of these years I'll be able to get my boys to eat some, too! 



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Breakfast Casserole

Source: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/breakfast-casserole/
Serves 12, but can be halved and baked in a 2-quart dish or square baking pan

2 pounds pork sausage
12 eggs
1 c sour cream
1/4 c milk
salt and pepper
4 green onions
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 c shredded cheddar cheese

If baking immediately, preheat to 350F. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. 

Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks.  

While the sausage is browning, mix eggs, sour cream, milk, cheese, and generous amounts of salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Use a hand mixer on low to combine. 

Drain the fat from the cooked sausage, then add it to the egg mixture. 

Cook the peppers and onions in the same skillet for several minutes, until softened. Then add to the egg mixture and stir. 

Pour egg mixture into prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes until casserole is set and enjoy. Or, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Melanie's Flour Tortillas

My sister-in-law who has lived in New Mexico for most of her life serves these with Green Chile Stew. I always feel lucky when they are on the menu.



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Melanie's Flour Tortillas


Makes 10 or so depending on how you roll them.

4 c  flour
1 teas baking powder
1 teas salt
2  teas powdered milk
1 1/2 c lukewarm water
6 T vegetable oil, softened butter, or good lard

Mix all ingredients together and very lightly knead to form the dough into a ball. Keeping it in the bowl, let it sit, covered, for 20 minutes. Divide into balls a bit bigger than a golf ball (about an inch and a half in diameter). Using flour and a floured rolling pin, roll out one ball very thinly (less than 1/8-inch thick), and cook on a griddle or in a large frying pan at medium high. While it is cooking, roll the next ball. Check the underside and when there are browned spots, turn it over and cook the second side until it is spotted as well. Some air bubbles may appear. Remove it from the griddle and start building stack of tortillas covered with foil and a kitchen towel to keep them warm while cooking the remaining dough balls. When cooking is complete, serve immediately. Refrigerate or freeze those you don't eat.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Grandma Betty's "Old Fashioned" Barley, Tomato, and Vegetable Soup

When I was a teenager my mom, a competent and frequent canner, canned this soup every fall and used jars of it for quick meals. It was much better than something from a red and white can. Later I did the same, when I could get tomatoes in large quantities (the canning recipe calls for a bushel). On those harried days when our family arrived home with everyone really hungry, bottles of this soup saved my life. Both my mom and I usually added cooked ground beef but it isn't necessary if you want a meatless meal.

In the last decade or so the USDA and extension agents have determined that modern tomatoes do not have enough acid to make them safe for canning in a water bath canner like my mom used. She added copious amounts of sugar and vinegar in an attempt to help preservation but I'm told by my local extension canning authority that the only safe way to can this soup is with a pressure canner which I do not have. So when my brother Sam, who also remembers the soup fondly, asked me about it, I decided to reduce the old canning recipe (which yielded 17 quarts) and tweak it a little so we could enjoy the flavor of the soup without canning. 

Recently Sam and I cooked the soup together with some of the last of my summer tomatoes and we are happy to report it tastes just like our mom's home canned vegetable soup.  






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Grandma Betty's "Old Fashioned" Barley, Tomato, and Vegetable Soup


Yields approximately 4 quarts

1/2 c pearl barley, soaked for 2 hours and cooked in water until al dente (don't over cook because it will cook  more later) 

1 T vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped or 2 cups 
5 medium cloves garlic, minced 
4 sticks of celery, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
4 carrots, diced
about 4 pounds fresh tomatoes chopped or  2 28-oz cans crushed or whole tomatoes (squish these a bit)
2 bay leaves
1 quart water
1 T c sugar (I think this is why we all liked this, including children)
1 1/2 teas salt, to taste (ditto)
1/2 teas freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c chopped parsley
2 T  cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 pound ground beef cooked in a skillet while soup cooks, optional


Soak barley in the same saucepan in which you will cook it. Drain the soaking water and add more and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat and cook the onions with a good pinch of salt until beginning to soften and become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add celery, carrots, and green pepper and cook while occasionally stirring until they soften somewhat. 

Add tomatoes (I used fresh but found a blender was faster than chopping), bay leaves, water, sugar, salt, black pepper. Bring to a strong simmer and turn heat down to a lower simmer and cook for about 45 minutes.  (I believe you can cook it for around 30 minutes if you use canned tomatoes.) Add the parsley, cooked barley, and the cooked ground beef and cook for 10-15 minutes more. Stir in the vinegar and serve. This is awfully good with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Note:

I think you could add other vegetables to this soup; green beans and corn come to mind. I wouldn't add summer squash until the last 15 minutes or so. 

I think you could reduce the amount of tomatoes to 3 pounds if you don't have four. You might want to increase the amount of water if you do. 



Thursday, December 10, 2020

Grandma Betty's Picnic Cake

My mom made this cake often when our family went on one of our frequent picnics in the mountains. The term picnic cake appears to refer to any cake without frosting since it can transport so easily. In this case the topping of brown sugar, walnuts, and chocolate chips makes a frosting completely unnecessary. This is a plus as far as I'm concerned.

My mom's recipe came from her gas company, Mountain Fuel Supply which along with many natural gas supply companies of the 20th century employed "home economists" to create and test recipes for their customers. When the transition was made from wood burning stoves to gas, some cooks found the change difficult so these specialists were originally hired to help them. They did much to educate the public on how to cook before the job was taken over by celebrity cooks. Of course, the point was to acquire more customers and encourage them to use more natural gas, just like a recipe on the back of an oatmeal box or a cocoa container exists to increase consumption. The original recipe even instructs cooks to bake it in a gas oven! 



 

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Grandma Betty's Picnic Cake

Source: a recipe Betty found at her local gas utility (Mountain Fuel Supply Co.), attributed to Jeanne Fenton, a home economist at the company
Makes a 9X13 pan


Changes for my altitude of nearly 5,000 feet:
baking soda with soaking dates--3/4 teas
subtract 2 T sugar
total of 1 7/8 c flour (or 1 3/4 plus 2 T)
baking soda with dry ingredients--1/2 teas
1 teas of vanilla

The following is the recipe as it appears on the dog-eared handout left in my mom's recipe box. I'm not sure if this recipe will work at sea level since I only remember it being baked at about 4500.

1 c finely chopped dates

1 1/2 c boiling water
1 teas baking soda

1 c sugar
1/2 c softened butter, softened
2 beaten large eggs
1/2 teas vanilla
1 1/2 c plus 3 T flour
1 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas baking soda
1/4 teas salt

for the topping:

3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c chocolate chips, semi sweet or dark
3/4 c chopped walnuts (or whatever nuts you have)

Pour the boiling water over the dates and baking soda and stir. Allow to cool and proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9X13 pan or two 8X8 pans with oil and flour. 

Cream the butter and the sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs and the vanilla mix well. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture alternating with the dates and the soaking liquid.

Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter. You can either sprinkle each ingredient separately or you can mix them together and then sprinkle. I will choose the method that makes the fewest dishes to wash.

Place the pan into the oven and bake for around 40 minutes. Cool and serve.


Note on altitude: 

Altitudes kept me from cooking this recipe for a long time. Even though my mom's altitude was only 500 feet different than mine currently, I had to make adjustments for success. Most of the time 500 feet doesn't make much difference. I can't quite figure this out and wish I could visit several altitudes and test the cake. The fact that the original recipe has an odd addition of 3 T flour leads me to believe that test cooks used a sea level recipe and added the extra to adjust the recipe for a higher altitude. Wish I could find Jeanne Fenton and ask her.