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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Raspberry Streusel Bars

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



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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.


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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.


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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.



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Individual Raspberry-Pistachio Buckles


Source: cooksillustrated.com
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 salt 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.




Saturday, September 6, 2014

Diane's Bean Dip

My sister-in-law, Diane (I have three!), made this pantry-ready dip for me when I visited her home about 10 years ago. It quickly became a staple. I've found that I like to add a few things, listed as optional.



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Diane's Bean Dip


Source: Diane Evans Spackman
Serves about 8 as an appetizer, fewer as a light meal

1 avocado, chopped
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 can black-eyed peas
green or red onions, chopped
tomatoes, chopped
cilantro, chopped (optional)
3-4 shakes (or to taste) red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

chopped green chile or jalapeno, to taste
1 minced garlic
lime juice instead of vinegar

Mix and eat with chips, nachos, or quesadillas.