Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fruit Crisp

Before fruit season is completely over, here's a delicious crisp. I love the cardamom in it. The source is lost in the sands of time, but I'm glad the recipe itself isn't!


Fruit Crisp

Yields a 9x13 pan of crisp, but the recipe is easily halved and baked in an 8x8 pan

8-9 c sliced, peeled cooking apples, pears, peaches (or frozen unsweetened peach slices), or apricots
4-6 T granulated sugar
1 c regular rolled oats
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c packed brown sugar
1 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas ground cardamom
1/2 c butter
1 c nuts of your choice (walnuts are a good bet)

Preheat oven to 375F. Place fruit in a 9x13 baking dish. Stir in the granulated sugar.

Combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, and spices. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts. Sprinkle topping over filling.

Bake crisp for approximately 40 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Lemon Chiffon Pie

I'm enjoying a deluge of berries so I'm always on the lookout for desserts that can be enhanced by either raspberries or strawberries. Recently I watched an episode of America's Test Kitchen which featured this lemon pie which I imagined would go well with some berries, either sliced or macerated. I was right.


Lemon Chiffon Pie

This recipe uses raw egg whites in the filling. You may wish to purchase pasteurized eggs or egg whites if you feel concerned about serving raw egg whites.

Source: America's Test Kitchen
Serves: 8-10

For the crust:

9 whole graham crackers (or 12 digestive biscuits)
3 T sugar
1/8 teas salt
5 T unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 325F. Process graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. You should have 1 1/4 cups crumbs. Add sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Add melted butter and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Place the crumbs into a 9-inch pie plate. Press crumbs evenly into bottom and up the sides of the plate. Bake until crust is lightly browned, 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

For the filling:

1 teas unflavored gelatin, divided
4 T water, divided
5 large eggs (2 whole, 3 separated)
1 1/4 c sugar, divided
1 T cornstarch
1/8 teas salt
1 T grated lemon zest plus 3/4 c juice (you may want to mix the two so you don't forget the zest)
1/4 c heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened to room temperature

Sprinkle 1/2 teas gelatin over 2 T water in a small bowl and let sit until gelatin has softened, about 5 minutes.  Repeat with a second small bowl, letting 1/2 teas gelatin dissolve in 2 T water.

Whisk 2 eggs and 3 yolks in a saucepan . Add 1 c sugar, cornstarch, and salt and stir well. Whisk in the lemon zest and juice and heavy cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and is slightly translucent. The mixture should measure about 170F. Stir in one water/gelatin mixture until dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 2 minutes.

Remove 1 1/4 c curd from the pan and pour it through a fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl. (This will ensure the curd is completely smooth.) Do not wash the bowl or the strainer. Carefully pour the strained curd into the prepared pie shell and spread into an even layer. Place in the freezer.

Add the remaining gelatin/water mixture and the cream cheese to the remaining curd in the saucepan and whisk to combine. If the curd has cooled and the cream cheese doesn't melt, place the pan on very low heat and continue stirring until the cream cheese is incorporated. Pour this mixture through the strainer into the bowl.

Whip 3 egg whites on medium-low (best in a stand mixer, but a hand mixer will work, too) until foamy and add the remaining 1/4 c sugar, raising the speed of the mixer to medium-high . Whip until egg whites are glossy and stiff. Add the curd/cream cheese mixture and whip on medium speed until few streaks remain. Scrape the sides of the bowl and stir the mixture until no streaks remain. Remove the pie shell from the freezer and pour the chiffon over the curd, allowing the chiffon to mound a bit in the center. Refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 2 days before serving.

Serve with fresh berries and berry coulis or macerate berries for a few hours before serving. I'm sure this would be equally good with blackberries or blueberries.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Corn Risotto

In my region, we are just about done with corn-on-the cob season; darn it. This is the last thing I made with fresh corn. I think it could be made with a high quality frozen corn, but I haven't done it so I can't be sure. I imagine that some of the nice crunch from fresh corn would be lost.

This would probably be prettier with yellow corn rather than white.

Corn Risotto

Most recipes for risotto, including this one require a lot of attention while stirring in the small increments of liquid. Cook's Illustrated Magazine has a technique for avoiding the more labor intensive method. Check it out.

Source: The New York Times
Serves: 4-6

This recipe calls for making a stock out of the corn cobs which might seem like it would take too long. However, when I made it the stock simmered away as I gathered ingredients and prepped before beginning. I felt the extra effort worthwhile since the homemade stock intensifies the corn flavor. If you prefer to streamline, low-sodium chicken broth would taste great, too.

For the stock:

2 corn cobs (kernels cut off and saved for risotto)
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 celery rib, cut into 1-inch pieces
Dark green leaves from 1 leek (save the white and light green)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teas salt
1 teas whole black peppercorns
6 c water

Combine all ingredients with water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cover; let cook for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh  strainer. Add enough water to bring liquid back to 6 cups. Keep warm.

For the risotto:

2 T unsalted butter
1 leek, white and light green parts, rinsed and finely chopped
1 teas kosher salt or 3/4 teas table salt
1/4 teas pepper, freshly ground if you have it
1 c arborio rice, worth looking for because other rices just aren't starchy enough
1/2 c dry white wine (see note)
6 cups hot corn stock or chicken stock
1 1/2 c raw corn kernels (cut from approximately 2 years of corn)
1 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c heavy cream
2 T minced chives (optional)
2 T basil, cut in very thin strips, (or chiffonade)

Melt 1 T butter in a saute pan or large saucepan over medium low-heat. Add leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned. Add salt and pepper. Stir in rice and cook while stirring, until grains look slightly translucent.

Pour in the wine and cook, stirring, until it has been absorbed, a couple of minutes.

Add a 1/2-3/4 c (or a ladle full) of hot stock to the rice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Continue cooking while stirring continuously, adding another portion of stock whenever the risotto looks dry. When half the stock has been added, stir in the corn. (If you use frozen corn, you may want to wait until 3/4 of the stock has been added.) Continue cooking until all of the stock has been incorporated and corn is tender. The rice should be creamy and tender with a little resistance to the bite.

Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan and remaining tablespoon of butter. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. If it has thickened, you can add a small amount of hot water or stock to loosen it.

Whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks. Stir the risotto and adjust seasoning if needed. Immediately before serving, stir in the chives, if using, then gently fold in the cream. (To tell the truth, I'm not sure what purpose is served by whipping the cream before stirring it in. I predict that stirring in liquid cream would be just as tasty a bit faster. Serve topped with basil.

Note: If you prefer to keep your cooking alcohol free, make a substitute such as this: mix 3 parts white grape juice with 1 part white wine vinegar. Of the various suggestions, I believe this sounds best.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Raspberry Streusel Bars

Something to use up our raspberries which are producing more than six pounds a day.


Raspberry Streusel Bars

Source: Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Yield: 24 2-inch squares

2 1/2 c unbleached flour (I substituted whole white wheat for about a third)
2/3 c granulated sugar
1/2 teas salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 16 tablespoon pieces,  plus 2 T cut into 1/2 inch pieces and softened to cool room temperature
1/4 c packed brown sugar, light or dark
1/2 c old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c pecans, chopped finely
3/4 c raspberry preserves or jam (I used freezer jam)
3/4 c fresh raspberries (I wish I had used at least another quarter cup)
1 T lemon juice

Heat the oven to 375F. Using two long pieces of aluminum foil, line a 9X13 cake pan, extending at least two sides to act as an overhang for lifting the bars out of the pan. This is easiest to do when using two pieces of foil crossing each other in the pan and you may have to fold the foil to make it fit well. Make sure the foil covers the bottom and the sides entirely.

In a stand mixer with a paddle, mix flour, granulated sugar, and salt until well combined. With the machine on low, add the butter, one piece at a time (excluding the 2 T at room temperature). Continue mixing until the mixture looks like damp sand. You may also use a food processor: process the flour, granulated sugar, and salt until combined. Place the 16 pieces of butter in the processor bowl and pulse (approximately 20 times) until the mixture resembles damp sand. Don't wash the processor bowl.

Set aside 1 1/4 c of the flour mixture. Place the remaining flour mixture evenly in the foil-lined pan. Use your hands or the flat bottom of a measuring cup to press the mixture into an even layer. Bake it until the edges begin to brown, approximately 14-18 minutes.

For the streusel: while the crust bakes, place the brown sugar, oats, and nuts to the reserved flour mixture into the food processor bowl (or toss in the mixer bowl). Work in the remaining 2 T butter, either by pulsing the food processor or by rubbing between your fingers until the butter is fully incorporated.

For the filling: combine the preserves, berries, and lemon juice and mash with a fork or potato masher until combined but allow the mixture to remain somewhat chunky.

When the bottom crust has browned remove from the oven and spread the filling evenly over all. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the filling but do not press it down. Bake until the topping is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 22-25 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, at least 1-2 hours. Remove from the baking pan by lifting the foil extensions. Using a chef's knife, cut into squares and serve. 

Bourbon Smoked Chicken

For some time bacon is turning up in all sorts of recipes (I recently saw some candied bacon garnishing the top of an candied apple cheesecake). It seems lots of us Americans just can't get enough of the stuff. I felt excited when I realized this recipe makes chicken taste like bacon--different texture but the same flavor. Really great!

Some readers may not feel comfortable with cooking with alcohol. I did an online search for recommendations and some said you could substitute sparkling apple cider and vanilla. I've not tried this but if you want to give this recipe a try and don't want to use the bourbon, try a combination of 1/2 c sparkling apple cider and 1/8-1/4 c vanilla.


Bourbon Smoked Chicken

Source: Cook's Country Magazine
Serves: 8

1 1/4 c bourbon
1 1/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 shallot, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teas pepper
2 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) whole chickens
1 c wood chips
4 (12 inch) wooden skewers, optional

Bring bourbon, soy sauce, sugar, shallot, garlic, and pepper to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Set aside 3/4 c of the mixture for basting while cooking. This marinade can be refrigerated for up to 3 days ahead.

To cut the chickens into halves, use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbones; freeze and save  backbones to make chicken stock at a later date. Flip the chickens over and flatten slightly. Using a chef's knife, split the chickens in half lengthwise, cutting right through the center of the breast bones. It will take a bit of effort but can be done easily enough. (If you prefer, you can ask a butcher to halve the chickens for you.) Cut 1/2 inch deep slits across breasts, thighs, and legs, about 1/2 inch apart. (I thought this was the hardest part of the preparation--next time I think I'll shoot for 1/4 inch slits.) Tuck the wingtips behind the backs. Marinate the chicken halves in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to 24, turning the halves from time to time. Marinating may be done in a couple of gallon zip-lock bags or in a large covered bowl or container (my preference since I don't have to throw the bags away).

Just before grilling, soak the wood chips in water for 15 minutes and drain. Place them in a foil packet and cut several vent holes in the top.

These instructions are for a charcoal grill using a chimney charcoal starter. If you own a gas grill, go to the link above and get instructions for that variation.

Open the bottom vent halfway. Start a large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (about 6 quarts). When the top coals are partially covered with ash, pour the briquettes into a banked pile against the side of the grill so that the charcoal is only over one half of the grill, leaving the other half for indirect cooking. Place the wood chip packet on the coals. Set the cooking grate in place and cover, venting the lid halfway. Heat the grill until hot and wood chips start to smoke, about 5 minutes.

Clean and oil the grate. Place the chicken halves on the side of the grill without briquettes turning the halves so that the drumsticks are pointing towards the fire. Baste every 15 minutes with the reserved bourbon/soy sauce mixture. Cook for 75-90 minutes, checking with a meat thermometer to see that the breasts are 160F and the thighs are 175F. After 45 minutes, rearrange the placement of the halves keeping the drumsticks towards the heat. All the sauce mixture should be used. When the chickens are cooked, remove them to a platter or cutting board and tent loosely with foil and allow them to rest for 20 minutes. Carve and serve. For instructions on carving a cooked chicken see this video: carving a chicken  (I'm hoping you can access the link without an account--let me know if you can't.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Apple Zucchini Muffins

These muffins are nice for fall, with their combination of apples and zucchini. My only complaint is that they don't use enough zucchini!!

I didn't have turbinado sugar so used organic sugar instead.


Apple Zucchini Muffins

Source: Two Peas and Their Pod 
Yields approximately 15 muffins

2 1/4 c white whole wheat flour
3/4 c dark brown sugar
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
1 teas ground cinnamon
1/4 teas ground allspice
1 c buttermilk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 T oil (melted coconut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil)
1 egg
1 teas vanilla extract
1/2 c grated apple (I used ginger gold, but I bet a lot of varieties would work)
1/2 c grated zucchini, moisture slightly squeezed out between several layers of paper towel
1 c chopped peeled apple

For the topping:
2 T turbinado sugar
1/4 teas cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and all-spice. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, applesauce, oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined. Do not over mix. Gently stir in the grated apple, zucchini, and chopped apples.

To make the topping, combine turbinado sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir well.

Fill the prepared muffin pan with muffin batter, filling each cup about 3/4 the way full. Sprinkle each muffin with cinnamon sugar topping. Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool to room temperature and serve.

The original recipe says these muffins freeze well--I haven't tried it, but it seems like the sugar topping would get soggy.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Individual Raspberry-Pistachio Buckles

With the abundance of raspberries in my garden I am happy to use this recipe which calls for quite a bunch of them, an advantage to me. Another is that the little cakes can be frozen and pulled out to be freshly baked later. One more is that you can mix this in your food processor after you've chopped the nuts.

This recipe can take substitutes for the berries and for the nuts. Cook's Illustrated offers a variation with blackberries and walnuts. See note below.


Individual Raspberry-Pistachio Buckles

Serves 8

1/2 c pistachios
4 T unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
1/4 teas salt
1/3 c heavy cream
2 large eggs
1 teas vanilla extract
3/4 c unbleached flour (I subbed 1/4 c with whole white-wheat flour)
1/2 teas baking powder
3 c (about 1 pound) fresh raspberries, frozen are not recommended--too much liquid

Lightly coat eight 6-oz ramekins with butter or vegetable oil spray and place on a baking sheet. Toast 1/4 c of the nuts in a small skillet until lightly toasted and aromatic. Coarsely chop the remaining nuts and set aside.

Process the toasted pistachios, butter, sugar, and slat in the food processor until finely ground, 10-15 seconds. With the machine running, add the cream, eggs, and vanilla through the feed tube and continue to process until smooth, about 5 seconds. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse until just incorporated, about 5 pulses.

Transfer the batter to a large bowl and fold in the raspberries. Spoon the batter into the ramekins and sprinkle the top of each cobbler with the remaining nuts.

Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes and serve after resting about 5 minutes. These are also good at room temperature.

If you wish to refrigerate (for up to 3 days) or freeze (for up to 1 month), wrap each ramekin tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. If these are frozen, let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. An additional 5 minutes of baking may be necessary.

Note: If you sub blackberries, you may use frozen as long as you pat them dry after thawing them. Use equal amounts of subbed berries or nuts. I haven't tried the blackberries but have used walnuts. I prefer pistachios because they make the cake a pretty shade of speckled yellow. But walnuts are easier to find.