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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Maple Molasses Oatmeal Cookies

I made these unique, delicious cookies back at the beginning of November. The flavors definitely fit fall season baking (and since I didn't manage anything pumpkin, this will have to be my one seasonal nod), but they also seem right at home for Christmastime baking.


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Maple Molasses Oatmeal Cookies


Source: Dough Eyed
Yields about 4 dozen cookies

This is a high altitude recipe; it will work at 4,000-6,000 feet above sea level.

1 1/2 c softened butter
2 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c molasses
3 teas maple extract (I used imitation)
4 c flour (2 c whole wheat flour is nice)
2 c oats
2 teas cinnamon
2 teas baking soda
1 teas salt
1/2 c or more additional sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add the eggs, molasses, and maple extract and stir until combined. Then add the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Beat until a dough forms, and every ingredient is incorporated.

Use your hands to create dough balls about 2 T in size. Then, roll each ball in the additional sugar until fully coated. Bake on the prepared sheets with about 2 inches between the dough balls; 14 minutes was about right in my oven. The cookies should be cracked and set. Let them cool completely.


Holiday Rum (or Root Beer) Balls

Rum Balls are a holiday treat found in multiple cultures around the world. For the home cook they are an easy to make "candy" and come in a number of varieties. Here are three--two with rum and one for kids and those who avoid alcohol.



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Chocolate Rum Balls


Yield: between 36 and 48 depending on size

When this recipe was first being tested Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies came in 12 oz. packs but by the time the recipe was printed they were in 11 oz. packs. Cook's Country said using an 11 oz. package was all right for the recipe. However, sneaky Nabisco has further reduced the amount of wafers in the package to 9 oz. and that will adversely affect the recipe. We'll have to buy 2 packs and have left over wafers. 

1/2 c-3/4 granulated sugar
5 c (12 oz) chocolate wafer cookies
1 1/4 c pecans, toasted (for this amount I recommend using the oven at 300 degrees)
1 c confectioners' sugar (4 oz)
6 T dark rum
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/8 teas salt

Place the sugar into a shallow bowl in which you'll roll the balls after forming them. I find that half a cup is sufficient but I have to work a bit harder to get them coated. So use 3/4 a cup for greater ease.

Place the cookie wafers and the pecans in a food processor and run it until they are finely ground. Pour into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.

The mixture may look too crumbly, but it will come together in your hands. Using either a half tablespoon or full tablespoon measure scoop out dough and roll between your hands. Place the rolled balls in the shallow bowl of sugar and swish and shake the bowl until the balls are completely covered by a thin layer of sugar crystals. Place on a tray or plate.

Refrigerate the balls for at least one hour. These can be held in the refrigerator for a week.

Notes:

Chocolate graham crackers can work in this recipe, too. Or a combination of wafers and graham crackers.

I haven't done this but I think you could substitute vanilla for the rum, but only use 1 tablespoon. You might have to add some water to make up for loss of liquid.




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Root Beer Balls


1/2 c granulated sugar
5 c (12 oz) vanilla wafers
1 1/4 c pecans, toasted (for this amount I recommend using the oven at 300 degrees)
1 c confectioners' sugar (4 oz)
1/4 c root beer
1 T vanilla, alcohol free imitation, if you prefer
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/8 teas salt

Follow the instructions above, substituting the root beer for the rum.







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Ginger Rum Balls

1/2 c granulated sugar
5 c (12 oz) vanilla wafer cookies
1 1/4 c pecans, toasted
6 T chopped crystallized ginger
1 c confectioners' sugar (4 oz)
6 T dark rum
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/8 teas salt

Follow the instructions above, but include the ginger with the wafers and pecans in the food processor.

Note:

I haven't tried this yet but believe you could substitute rum flavoring if you want to avoid most of the alcohol, although the rum flavoring, like vanilla, is often alcohol based.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

These chewy cookies are adapted from a recipe titled "Best Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies" found on Food52.com. The author used coconut sugar which keeps your blood sugar from spiking (hence the "healthy" moniker). I prefer the flavor of granulated sugar so mine aren't quite as healthy. You choose.






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Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies


Adapted from food52.com
Yields about 32 cookies

adjustments for altitudes of 3500-5500 feet

add 1 1/2 T almond flour
subtract 1 1/2 T sugar
subtract 1/2 teas baking soda
eggs at room temperature

3 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/2 c creamy unsalted almond butter (well stirred and at room temperature)
3/4 c almond flour
3/4 teas fine-grain salt
1 1/2 c sugar (granulated or coconut sugar)
1 1/2 teas baking soda
3/4 c chopped walnuts or pecans
3/4 c rolled oats
3/4 c dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
a bit of flaky sea salt, to sprinkle on top if you desire

Place a silicone baking mat or parchment paper on 2 or 3 baking sheets. Bring your oven to 375F.

Beat the eggs, vanilla, and almond butter in a large bowl until combined. Add the almond flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda, stirring until smooth. Add the nuts, oats, and chocolate chips and stir. This will take a bit of work because the dough will seem crumbly and rather dry, which is okay. (Unless you use a liquidy almond butter, see note below.)

Use a tablespoon or a tablespoon scoop to pick dough up and place in your hands. Roll the dough to compress into mounds and place on the baking sheet. If you used the runnier almond butter, flatten the cookies a little in the center so they look like hockey pucks. If you used a drier brand your dough may not look much like dough, kind of dry and crumbly. I found I could press this type of dough together with my hands and the cookies turned out fine.

If using, sprinkle with the salt.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (for my oven it is 11 minutes). I like them to look just slightly undercooked but you may like them once they are golden brown around the edges. 

Take them from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Note:

The original author used coconut sugar and indicated that the quality of these cookies goes down markedly after the first day. So she divides the recipe and cooks only a third. I find that granulated sugar keeps these cookies quite moist for several days.

I've made these 4 times now and each time they've been different (but always tasty). This recipe may be more sensitive to brand characteristics than some baked items. I've used 3 different types of almond butter and have begun to believe my favorite comes from Trader Joe's, but I'll try Costco's Kirtland brand again because it is affordable. If you try these cookies and aren't as happy with the outcome, try again using a different brand of almond flour. 


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Chickpea and Pomegranate Salad

Grab a pomegranate while you can. They are versatile, tasting great in everything from salads, soups, main dishes, to desserts. Here's a quick salad that can be a side or a light main dish.





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Chickpea and Pomegranate Salad


Serves 4-6

for the dressing (you can make this ahead by a couple of days and keep in the fridge):

2-3 T pomegranate molasses, increasingly easy to find in supermarkets, Middle Eastern markets, and online
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (depending on clove size and your preference)
3 T fresh lemon juice
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Mix together in a small glass jar and cover tightly with the lid. Shake vigorously until emulsified. 

for the salad:

1 c plain, instant couscous
1 c boiling water
salt to taste and generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper
1 14-oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 c pomegranate seeds (arils from a whole fruit are preferred)
1/2 c chopped fresh mint
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

In a large bowl, mix the couscous, boiling water, and 1/4 teas salt and at least that much pepper. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes until the water has been absorbed. Remove the cover and fluff the couscous with a fork or a chopstick.

Just before serving, place the chickpeas and pomegranate arils in the bowl and stir. Stir the salad dressing in, tossing until mixed. Taste for seasoning and stir in more salt and pepper if needed. 

Top the salad with the herbs just before serving. 

Note:

If you can't find pomegranate molasses you can make your own by reducing pomegranate juice over heat until it is syrupy. Let it cool before making the dressing. If this seems too nerdy, just sub an extra tablespoon of lemon juice for the molasses.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Crispy Chickpeas and Lamb with Greens and Garlicky Yogurt

My Thanksgiving was abbreviated; even so, later this weekend I felt the need for a meal that seemed healthier. Beans and greens seemed just the thing.


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Crispy Chickpeas and Lamb with Greens and Garlicky Yogurt


Serves 4

 for the Garlicky Yogurt

1 c full fat or 2 % Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

for the Chickpeas and Lamb 

1-2 bunches Swiss chard, mustard greens, or kale
6 T olive oil, divided
12 oz (3/4 pd) ground lamb
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teas cumin seed
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teas crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
fresh tomatoes, quartered or roasted tomatoes for a garnish

Make the yogurt (it can be made ahead up to 5 days and kept in the fridge--the garlic will get stronger). 

Rinse the greens and separate the stems from the greens. Slice the stems (except for kale) and tear the leaves into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat place 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the lamb, garlic, cumin, and some salt and pepper (you can test it later and add more if needed). Cook, browning the lamb and breaking it as it cooks until it is crispy and browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb into a bowl. Leave the drippings in the skillet.

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and heat for a few minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Shaking the skillet from time to time, cook until the chickpeas are very well browned and starting to get crisp. Return the lamb to the skillet and stir well. Then place this mixture in a large bowl. Leave a little oil in the skillet.

Stir the sliced stems into the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cook a couple of minutes (they should be a bit crunchy in the final dish)  and add the leaves and stir until coated with the oil. Cook just until wilted. 

Place the yogurt into the bottom of four bowls and top with the chickpea and lamb mixture and the greens. Top all with some of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired and eat immediately.

Note:

I'm sure another bean could be substituted for the chickpeas.


Monday, November 25, 2019

Clementine Cake

If you like seasonal foods, here's a wintry dessert that can brighten your day with its sunny appearance. Don't be put off by the length of the recipe. The cake is as easy as zucchini bread but I've posted several options for topping it.


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Clementine Cake


Adapted from Cook's Country Magazine
Serves 8-10


Cook's Country instructs cooks to make candied slices of clementines for garnish. They look very pretty on the cake but I found them awkward to eat. I prefer making a glaze with some clementine zest. I'll give instructions for both.




For the cake:

Altitude (3500-5500 ft) adjustments:

add 1 T flour
reduce baking powder to 1 teas
reduce sugar by 1 1/2 T

Note about almonds and blanched almond flour:

I checked with Cook's Country magazine about using almond flour rather than making your own by processing whole blanched almonds; they prefer whole almonds because toasting the almonds adds extra flavor to the cake. However, you can, and should, toast almond flour, if you use it. It's not hard; just don't leave it unattended for any length of time. Place the almond flour in a 12-skillet over medium heat and cook for 5-7 minutes stirring frequently until the almond flour has darkened in color and smells fragrant. Let it cool for 20 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. Also, make sure you weigh the almond flour since measuring it by cup will be different than measuring whole almonds. I also read on Washington Post that you can toast nut flours for 25-30 minutes in the oven at 250F. I'd advise stirring once or twice and checking as the end of the roasting time approaches.

9 ounces clementines (about five 2-inch diameter) unpeeled, stemmed
2 1/4 c sliced blanched almonds, toasted (or 7 1/2 ounces blanched almond flour, toasted)
1 c AP flour
1 1/4 teas baking powder
1/4 teas salt
10 T unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces and softened
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
5 eggs

Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 325F. Prepare a 9" springform pan by spraying with cooking spray. Then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray or butter the paper and sides of the pan.

Place the clementines into a microwave safe bowl and cover with a lid. Cook on high in microwave until clementines are softened and some juice has been released (about 3 minutes). Throw the juice away and allow the clementines to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Place the almonds, AP flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and run until the almonds are finely ground, about 30 seconds. Move to another bowl. (If you use almond flour, when it has cooled add the AP flour, baking powder, and salt directly to the almond flour in the skillet; no need to move it to bowl.)

Place the cooled whole clementines to the processor container and process until smooth as you can get them, about a minute; scrape the sides down if necessary.

With a stand mixer and paddles, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy for about 3 minutes. (If  you don't have a stand mixer, use a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar. Or if you've got a Bosch, use the cookie paddles on medium speed.) One at a time, add the eggs and scrape the sides of the bowl down if needed. Beat in the clementine puree until incorporated.

Turn your mixer to low and add the almond/flour mixture in 3 additions until just combined. If needed, scrape the sides of the bowl. Remove paddles (or beaters) from the bowl and use a rubber spatula to stir the batter a final time or two. Move the batter from the bowl into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Place the pan in the oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Place the finished cake on a rack and allow to completely cool (about 2 hours).

Run a plastic knife around the edge of the pan and remove the cake. Drizzle with glaze and see directions below for optional candied clementines.

For a thin glaze:

1 c confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 -1 teas clementine zest (optional if you are using candied clementine slices)
2 T clementine juice (or water) or more if needed

Mix  ingredients together. If it is very thick add water or juice, teaspoon by teaspoon until thin enough for drizzling. Use a rubber spatula to drizzle over the top of cooled cake. Let glazed cake sit on counter for an hour or so while glaze sets.

For a thicker glaze:

2 c confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 T clementine juice or water, plus extra if needed
pinch of salt
1/2 -1 teas clementine zest (optional if you are using candied clementine slices)

In a bowl, stir sugar, water, and salt together and whisk until smooth. If it is very thick, add water half a teaspoon at a time until the glaze is the consistency of thick craft glue.

Place the cake on a serving platter and pour the glaze over the top. Smooth with an off-set or rubber spatula and let some of the glaze run down the sides of the cake. Let it sit out for at least an hour so the glaze will set.



For candied clementines:


4 clementines, unpeeled, stemmed
1 c water
1 c granulated sugar
1/8 teas salt

Slice the clementines about 1/4 inch thick. Bring to a slow boil  the water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and keep heat at medium. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved.  Place all the slices, excepting the rounded ends, in the mixture and cook the fruit. Use paper towels to make a triple-thick lining on a baking sheet. When the clementines have cooked until softened (6 minutes or so), place the clementines on the prepared sheet. Cool for 30 minutes or more turning them over once.

Just before you plan to serve, choose eight of the candied clementine slices. If there is any excess moisture, blot it away with a paper towel. Place the clementines around the edges of the cake evenly so there will be one candied clementine for each of 8 slices of cake. Serve.

This cake can be kept in airtight wrapping or a container for up to two-three days.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Baked Eggs with Beans and Greens

In a rare cooking success on a busy day this week, I realized ahead of time that I had some wilty, month-old, garden chard in my fridge that would work in this recipe. And some already cooked italian sausage in the freezer from I-don't-remember-when. And some fresh, leggy basil still reaching for the light inside my back door (most of which is a window).

I feel like that basil this time of year: every part of me reaching for the warmth and light, wan though it might be, basking in it before the true cold months set in.



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Baked Eggs with Beans and Greens


Source: New York Times Cooking
Serves 4-6

2 T olive oil
1/2 lb sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (optional, or pre-cooked as in my case)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 15-oz can chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt
2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes
4 c stemmed and packed roughly chopped greens such as spinach, kale, or Swiss chard
6 large eggs
black pepper
2 T mixed herbs, such as Italian parsley and basil, for garnish
1-2 T grated cheese, such as pecorino or Parmesan, for serving (optional, but very yummy)

Heat the oven to 375. Place olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet and warm over medium heat. If using the sausage, add it to the skillet and cook, breaking it up into bitesize pieces as you stir. Remove the sausage, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible, and set aside.

Cook the onion in the skillet until softened. Then add the beans and garlic, and stir, until the garlic is fragrant, just a minute or so. Sprinkle pan with salt. Add the tomatoes and sausage, then stir to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer, then gradually add the chopped greens, a handful at a time. Stir the greens in until wilted before adding another handful. Season with salt again.

Use a spoon to create a small divet in the sauce, then crack an egg into it. Repeat six times, then sprinkle each egg with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until the eggs are set to your desired firmness. (My kids don't like any gooeyness, so I left mine in for 20-25 minutes.) Scatter the herbs and cheese over the top, and let cool a minute or two before digging in.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Chocolate Berry Shortcakes

Where have you been all of my life, chocolate shortcakes? This was one of the recipes Mom brought to my house in September, when she came for our annual canning extravaganza. She brought raspberries with her, too, and we both had enjoyed a fall berry harvest of sorts. Her berries really produced before cold arrived, while every few days until the frost I found a delightful spot of red in my strawberry patch.



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Chocolate Berry Shortcakes

Source: Food52.com
Serves 8

Shortcakes:

Altitude adjustment for 3500-5500 feet:

subtract 1/4 teas baking powder
subtract 1/4 teas baking soda

2 egg yolks
1 c heavy cream
1 3/4 c AP flour
1/2 c plus 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 teas baking powder
3/4 teas baking soda
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/2 teas kosher salt
6 T unsalted butter, cold
2 oz  bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or chocolate chips
3 T raw, sanding, or granulated sugar 

Berry topping:

1 1/2 pds raspberries or strawberries, trimmed if necessary and cut into small pieces or slightly smashed
3 T granulated sugar, or to taste
1 pinch kosher salt


Whipped cream topping:

1 c heavy cream
1 teas granulated sugar
1/2 teas vanilla extract

Preheat oven  to 400F. Place parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a large baking sheet.

Measure the cream in a liquid measuring cup. Drop the egg yolks in and stir with a small whisk until well mixed.

In a large bowl, place flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt and whisk until completely combined. Use the large holes on a grater to shred cold butter into the mixture and stir together with a fork until the butter is incorporated throughout. Stir in the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Add the cream/egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula and eventually using your hands to mix into a cohesive dough. It will be thick.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll each lump into a rough ball. Dip them into sugar (plain granulated sugar contrasts nicely with the chocolate biscuits) and place, sugar side up, on the lined baking sheet in 3 lines of 2 shortcakes each, staggering the rows.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until set, rotating the pan once during baking time. Remove from oven and allow to rest on a cooling rack.

About 30 minutes before serving, mash about a third of the berries and add the remaining berries. If using strawberries, quarter or cut into pieces. Stir in the sugar and salt. Set aside to macerate for 25 minutes until very juicy.

Using a cold bowl, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract together until the mixture holds a peak.

Cut the shortcakes in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Place the bottom halves on plates and top with macerated fruit. Top the fruit with a big dollop of whipped cream and place the top half of the shortcake on top. Enjoy!

Note:

Shortcakes can be frozen and defrosted in the fridge. If desired, you can warm them in an oven at low temperature for a few minutes.



Friday, September 27, 2019

Curried Chicken Breast with Zucchini

It is with a strange sense of both wistfulness and relief that I anticipate the waning of the garden every fall. I love harvest season, but it brings with a constant pressure to eat and preserve every little bit of produce while I still have it. So the relief is a lessening of that pressure, but it comes at a cost, of boring winter food. 

We're facing a probable freeze next week, with a number of baby zucchinis still on my plants. Two of them went into this fairly easy, low carb dinner. I usually add a starch (pasta, bread, or rice), and sometimes another veggie for my picky eaters who don't like zucchini unless it's in a sweet bread. 





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Curried Chicken Breast with Zucchini


Modified slightly from https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/3209-curried-chicken-breast-with-zucchini

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lbs)
~4 T olive oil, divided
salt
pepper
2 small zucchini, about 1 lb
2 teas curry powder
1 T unsalted butter
2 T fine chopped shallots
1/2 c chicken broth
2 T heavy cream

Turn the chicken breasts on their sides and cut in thin pieces of meat that will cook faster. Then add the chicken to a large bowl and coat with ~1 T oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper.

Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the zucchini and curry powder to the bowl with the chicken and stir with your hands to coat everything evenly.

Heat oven to 200F and prepare a dish to hold the zucchini and chicken that finishes early.

Heat ~1 T oil over medium high heat in each of two large, heavy skillets: I use a cast iron and an all clad, because that's what I have. Add the chicken in one layer to both skillets, then place the zucchini in between the chicken.

The original recipe said to brown one side for 3 minutes and then turn the heat down to moderately low and cook the other side for 5 minutes. The timing on this seems way off. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to cook the chicken to 165F after I turn the heat down for the second side. Turn the zucchini occasionally until browned and softened to taste. Move the chicken and zucchini to the warm oven as it finishes.

Then, use one skillet to make the pan sauce. Pour off the fat, and add the butter. Add the shallots. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring to get the flavorful dark bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the broth; reduce to about 1/3 c and then stir in the cream. Bring to a boil, then add the chicken and zucchini pieces back to the skillet and turn them to coat. I wanted more sauce last time, so I might increase the amounts for the pan sauce next time.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

Blender Ice Cream

I have a beautiful mint plant on my back steps, that I keep watering every summer because I plan on using it to flavor mint ice cream. The last couple of summers, however, that idea has seemed out of reach. Infusing the cream with mint and pulling out the ice cream machine has been too much. But I am back in the ice cream game now, with this new recipe for making ice cream in a blender!

This was the perfect first-day-of-school treat! So easy. Whip the cream in the blender for 30 seconds, then dump everything else in and process for a few seconds more. Freeze for 6 hours or more, and voila! Soft, scoop-able, tasty ice cream.

Both recipes I tried were plenty sweet for me. I'm going to remove the granulated sugar next time--but here is the original, since I know not everyone objects to sweet.


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Blender Ice Cream Base, with Three Variations


Source: Cook's Country
Yield: about a quart

2 c heavy cream, chilled
1 c sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 c whole milk
1/4 light corn syrup
2 T sugar
1/4 teas table salt

Vanilla variation

1 T vanilla extract

Mint Cookie variation

3/4 teas peppermint extract
4 Oreo cookies, or something similar, crushed coarse (1/2 c)

Peanut Butter Cup variation

1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1/2 c coarsely chopped peanut butter cups
(This peanut butter ice cream is really good topped with spanish peanuts.)

The original recipe says to process cream in a blender for 20-30 seconds until soft peaks form, then scrape down the sides and process another 10 seconds until stiff peaks form. I have a ninja blender and it was hard to tell the exact peak stage, so I went with the time recommendations instead.

After the cream is whipped, add all other ingredients except the big stir-ins like cookies or candy chunks. Process for another 20 seconds or so until fully combined, then pour into a loaf pan. Gently stir in cookie or candy, if applicable. Then cover the ice cream with plastic wrap, pressing it down so it's resting right on the cream mixture. Freeze for at least 6 hours, then enjoy!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Baked Peach Oatmeal with Almonds

One more summertime oatmeal recipe.



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Baked Peach Oatmeal with Almonds


Adapted from:  https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/baked-peach-almond-oatmeal/
Yields:  6-9 servings

2 c rolled oats
1/4 c light brown sugar
1 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
1 teas cinnamon
1/2 c chopped almonds
2 c milk,  any kind but almond milk might be particularly good
1 large egg
3 T coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly, or 3 T melted and cooled butter
1 teas vanilla extract
1/4 teas almond extract
1 1/2 c chopped peaches
Peach slices for the top, optional

Oil or butter an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish. Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and almonds in a medium bowl.

Mix the milk, egg, coconut oil (or butter), and extracts in another bowl. Pour over the oat mixture and stir until combined.

Spread the chopped peaches on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with the oatmeal mixture and even it with an offset or rubber spatula. Top the pan with peach slices, if desired.

Bake for 40 minutes; the oatmeal should be set and the top be golden. Let it cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Notes:

This is not a particularly sweet version of baked oatmeal which suits me fine, but I wager many people might like it a bit sweeter. You could add another tablespoon or two of sugar without a problem. Or you might offer a bit of maple syrup when you serve it. If you have some Peach Drizzle, this would be a great use for it.

You can double this recipe and place ingredients in a 9X13 pan.

Next time, I may use 2 cups chopped peaches, especially if I have an abundance of fruit.

This can be easily reheated in the microwave but you may want to stir in a bit of milk for creaminess.


Peruvian Chicken Soup

Although I'm unsure if this soup is authentic, it is tasty, pretty, and, for me, unique. Better yet it is very quick. The soup can be finished in about 30 minutes.

You may not love quinoa and although it hangs out at the bottom of the pan making it hard to serve evenly, I could find nothing objectionable in the flavor--it added texture to the soup. You could leave it out or use some potatoes, rice, or orzo (you'd have to fiddle with cooking time, though).



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Peruvian Chicken Soup


Serves about 2 but can be multiplied

1 small onion, cut into quarters
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 small jalapeno pepper, optional (or it can be increased), seeds removed and coarsely chopped
8 large stems of parsley or cilantro, including tender stems, coarsely chopped
1 T oil
2 c chicken broth
1/4 c quinoa
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast half (about 11 oz)
1/2 c frozen peas, optional
salt
pepper
1 lime for serving

Place the onion, celery, garlic, jalapeno, and parsley or cilantro into a blender or a food processor along with the oil. Pulse until you've got a pesto-like paste. If it resists your machine's efforts add a tablespoon or 2 of the chicken broth and try again. It's nice to have it quite smooth but if you can't get there, don't fret. It will still taste good.

Scrape the vegetable paste into a saucepan and place on a burner over medium heat; let it heat for a minute or two. Add the broth. If your quinoa needs to be rinsed (check the package) do so and then put it into the pot. Once the mixture starts to boil, put a lid on it, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so.

In the meantime, cut the chicken breast across the grain into 1-inch slices and place into the sauce pan. With the lid off, cook for 10 minutes until the meat is opaque. The quinoa should be starting to pop. Remove the chicken from the pan and cut it into bite size pieces. Return the chicken to the soup and stir in the peas. Cook until the peas have warmed up and are tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Peach and Corn Salsa

It's time for peaches! This fruit keeps me happy for weeks and weeks during the summer. And corn on the cob helps, too. Even though this is a canning recipe you can easily half it and store in the fridge if you have left overs. You'd get about 3 cups of salsa.


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Peach and Corn Salsa


From: The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving 
Yield: about 6 half-pint jars (or 6 cups)

1/4 c malt vinegar (5% acidity)
1/4 c lime juice (about 4 small limes)
3 T chopped canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (optional) I used about one or a little more
2 T maple syrup
2 teas salt
1 teas fresh thyme or dried
3 1/2 c finely chopped peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 1/3 c fresh or frozen corn kernels (2 fairly large ears; more if small)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c finely chopped red bell pepper

Heat clean canning jars in the canner as you prepare the ingredients.

Place all ingredients into a 5 or 6-quart stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. Place on high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook about 5 minutes until heated through. Stir often.

While the salsa is cooking, clean lids and place them in a bowl of boiling water and allow to sit until you need them.

Use a ladle or measuring cup to place the salsa into each hot jar leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Use a chopstick or thin rubber spatula to remove bubbles. Wipe the jar rims with a clean paper towel to ensure no food adheres to the edge.  Place the lids on top. Top with clean bands on each jar and tighten with your finger tips. Place the jars into the simmering water in the canning pot. Measure to ensure you have at least one inch of water above the tops of the jars.

Cover the pot and return to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes but adjust for altitude by adding required boiling time according to this chart:

1,001-3,000 ft--5 additional minutes
3,001-6,000 ft--10 additional minutes
6,001-8,000 ft--15 additional minutes
8,001-10,000 ft--20 additional minutes

When the jars have boiled for the required time turn the heat off and allow them to sit in the water for 5-10 minutes to reduce the risk of siphoning (hot liquid escaping the jar in rapid temperature change). Using jar tongs, pull each jar from the water being careful not to tip the jars (also a siphoning risk) and place on a towel in a spot where it can remain for 24 hours as it completes its seal and cools down. If you must move them, place them on a towel on a baking sheet and as soon as all the jars are on the sheet carry them together to an area where they won't be disturbed for a day.

Note if you aren't canning this:

Cook the salsa longer 15 minutes or so. Test it and if it is too crunchy, cook it for another 5 minutes. 


Monday, July 29, 2019

Slow-cooker Salmon with Peppers, Onions, and Charmoula

Using a slow-cooker to cook salmon may seem strange especially since it only cooks for an hour. But during a hot summer it is nice to heat up only that small space.



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Slow-cooker Salmon with Peppers, Onions, and Charmoula


Source:  Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone
Serves: 6

Charmoula is a green, herb based sauce served with fish, meat, or vegetables in several countries in the north of Africa.


For the salmon:

1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large bell pepper, cut into narrow strips
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into narrow strips
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 thick salmon fillet (about 2 pounds) cut into 6 serving pieces
1/2 c water

For charmoula sauce:

1/2 c fresh cilantro
1 large clove,  roughly chopped
1 teas ground cumin
1/2 teas paprika
1/3 c olive oil
2-3 T fresh lemon juice

Drop the onion and peppers into the bottom of the insert of a slow-cooker. Spread the pieces of salmon over the top and pour the water over all. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the insert in the slow-cooker, cover with the lid, and cook on high for an hour. Test the fish by cutting into the thickest part. If it is just barely translucent it will be done.

In the meantime, place the cilantro, clove, cumin, paprika and salt to taste into a food processor or blender and process until chopped finely. Add the oil and lemon juice and process until emulsified. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.

Serve the salmon on top of the vegetables and pass the charmoula for drizzling over the fish.

Note:

I am sure you could increase the amount of vegetables if you prefer. I wouldn't increase the water, though.



Friday, June 28, 2019

Strawberry-Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal

I love baked oatmeal but admit that it's a cool weather love. This recipe extends the oatmeal season for me. Rhubarb lends a pleasant tartness to a sweet background and since you likely won't find it in the supermarket again until next spring, frozen will work fine. (That said, keep an eye out for fresh rhubarb; I saw some 2 days ago in my local co-op.)


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Strawberry-Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal


Serves 6-8

Next time I bake this, I'm going to add a half teaspoon grated orange zest and top it with a handful of slivered almonds. I haven't tested it, but I believe you could substitute an equal amount of strawberries for the rhubarb if it's out of season.

3 c old fashioned rolled oats
1/3-1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 teas baking powder (at 4000-5000 ft. elevation, 2 teas. at lower elevations)
1/4 teas salt
1 teas vanilla
1/4 c vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 c milk, any kind
1/4 c yogurt
3/4 c chopped strawberries, fresh or frozen
3/4 c chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen (red varieties are prettier, but not necessary) about half-inch dice
3-4 T cinnamon sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, milk, yogurt, and vanilla. Mix the oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in another bowl. Pour the milk mixture over the oat mixture and stir well to combine. Stir in the strawberries and rhubarb. Pour into a pie plate, a 9-inch round cake pan, or an 8-inch square pan. Sprinkle the top generously with cinnamon sugar.

Place in oven and bake for 45-50 minutes at my elevation, at lower elevations start checking at 40 minutes. When it is done, it will be fairly firm to the touch and crispy on the edges.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Chicken, Bacon, Avocado, and Tomato Wrap

This wrap feels summery to me, pairing nicely with corn on the cob and/or sliced watermelon.



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Chicken, Bacon, Avocado, and Tomato Wraps


Adapted from How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman

bacon and some hot, rendered bacon fat
rotisserie chicken
cherry tomatoes
avocado
lime
tortillas or sandwich wraps

Cook 1-2 slices of bacon per wrap in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. While bacon is cooking, halve some cherry tomatoes and slice some avocado. I like about a quarter of a large avocado in my wrap. Tear chicken into pieces with your fingers. Prepare tortillas if necessary.

Construct the wraps. Place chicken pieces in the wrap first, then top with bacon slice(s), tomatoes, and avocado. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Squeeze some lime juice over the top, then drizzle some hot bacon fat over all of it. Wrap it up like a burrito and enjoy.

The lime juice and bacon fat is key to this recipe. Don't leave it out!

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. 

Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili




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Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili


Serves: 8

This is a vegan chili but I cooked up a little chorizo as an add-in for meat eaters. It is yummy either way.

1 T oil
2 c chopped onion, about 2 medium onions
4 c cubed sweet potatoes (3/4-inch), about 1 1/4 pds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chipotle en adobo, finely chopped, or to taste
1 T ancho chile powder
2 teas ground cumin
1/2 teas smoked paprika
1 (14.5 oz) can tomatoes, diced or whole and crushed before adding
3 1/2 c cooked black beans, rinsed and drained if from cans (about 2 1/4 15.5 oz. cans)
1 1/2 c homemade or purchased vegetable broth
1/2 teas salt
1 avocado, for garnish, optional
1/4 c snipped chives, for garnish optional

Start heating the oil over medium heat and add the onions once it shimmers. Stir frequently and allow onions to cook until translucent and tender. Add the sweet potatoes and the garlic and cook until the sweet potatoes are beginning to get soft, about 10 minutes. Add the chipotle en adobo, ancho chile powder, cumin, and smoked paprika. Stir constantly while the spices become fragrant and mixed in, about a minute.

Add the tomatoes, beans, and broth and raise the heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer slowly uncovered. Stir occasionally until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30-35 minutes. If you want to change the consistency, add more broth.

Stir in the salt and taste and adjust.

Serve topped with chopped avocados and chives.

Notes:

You can find chipotle en adobo in many supermarkets these days; otherwise it's available in a Mexican market.

I made this with home cooked beans and since I used aromatics (carrot, onion, celery, garlic) while cooking the beans, I used bean broth instead of vegetable broth.

Canned diced tomatoes usually have calcium chloride added which keeps them in a consistent diced state and they don't break down with cooking. It's a matter of preference whether you use them. If you like your tomatoes to dissipate in a soup or stew, break or crush whole tomatoes but if you like chunks of tomatoes in your dish, use the diced version.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (with altitude adjustments)

Betsy and I went through a couple of weeks of concentrated chocolate chip cookie baking last December when she gave a presentation on high altitude baking. This is my current favorite recipe; plus these cookies already have a history.

During the holiday season, Betsy had to do without a refrigerator and freezer for a few weeks. I mailed Betsy a couple dozen cookies without high altitude adjustment so attendees could compare them to modified cookies. To protect their freshness they needed to be stored frozen but with no space at home Betsy used the freezer at the church right next door. This was a mistake because the bulk of the cookies disappeared before Betsy's presentation. Happy holidays for someone! I imagine the cookies tasted so good to the 'testers' that they couldn't stop at just one. These are hard to resist!


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Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (with altitude adjustments)    


Source:  Cooksillustrated.com
Yield: 16 large cookies

Changes needed for altitudes of 4000-5500 feet above sea level:

add 1 T flour
reduce baking soda to 1/4 teas
reduce granulated sugar by 1 T




1 3/4 c flour
1/2 teas baking soda
14 T unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c packed dark brown sugar
1 teas table salt
2 teas vanilla
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 c semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 c chopped and toasted pecans or walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 375F with the rack in the middle position. Place parchment paper on 2 baking sheets (18X12). (You may use smaller sheets but will need to bake in more batches.)

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and soda together and set aside.

In a 10-inch skillet (avoid non-stick since it makes it hard to monitor browning) heat 10 tablespoons of butter until melted. Swirling the pan constantly, continue to cook until the butter has browned to a dark golden brown color with a nutty smell. Remove from the heat and using a heat resistant rubber spatula, place the browned butter into a large bowl. Stir the remaining butter into the melted butter and stir it until it has melted completely.

To the bowl containing the butter, add both sugars, salt, and vanilla. Stir until well mixed. Add the egg and yolk and whisk until there are no sugar lumps visible. Allow this mixture to stand for 3 minutes, then whisk it for 30 seconds. Repeat the process of resting and whisking twice more until the mixture is glossy, smooth, and thick. (Don't skip this step; it will allow more of the sugar to dissolve before mixing other ingredients in which improves flavor and texture.)

Stir the flour mixture into the sugar mixture using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon just until combined. Add the chocolate chips and nuts (if using) stirring just enough to ensure they are evenly distributed in the dough. This should also ensure no pockets of flour remain.

Divide the dough using a #24 cookie scoop, if you have one, or into portions of about 3 tablespoons (try a scant quarter cup). Place them on the baking sheets, 8 balls per sheet. Bake one sheet at a time for about 10-14 minutes (it's easy to misjudge cooking times with two in the oven and end up with some overcooked cookies).

Note:
You may make these smaller if you wish but modify the cooking time.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

Although we already have a good mac and cheese recipe in our collection, I'm going to include this one, too. I like the idea of an almost one pan meal (depends on if you want to count supplementary bowls) and I like that this cooks on the stove-top.


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Skillet Macaroni and Cheese                     


Source:  Cook's Country Magazine
Serves: 4-6

2 T unsalted butter
2 slices sandwich bread pulsed in food processor until coarsely ground to equal 2 c crumbs

salt and pepper

3 3/4 c water, plus more if needed
1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk, divided
3 c elbow macaroni
1 teas cornstarch
2  teas hot sauce, or to taste
3 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a 12-inch skillet melt butter over medium-high and add bread crumbs, 1/4 teas salt and 1/4 teas pepper. Cook and stir frequently until the crumbs are deep golden brown. Move to a bowl and let rest.

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Replace on stove at medium-high heat. To the skillet add the water, 1 1/4 c of the evaporated milk, and 1/2 teas salt and bring it to a simmer. Add the macaroni, stir. Cook until macaroni is al dente remembering to stir often. 

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with the remaining evaporated milk and stir in the hot sauce. Stir this mix into the skillet and continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, about a minute. Remove from heat and stir the cheeses in, one handful at a time, adding water if needed to adjust the thickness of the sauce. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and serve.

Note:

Because of all the cheese, I believe the amounts of salt called for in cooking may be reduced somewhat.

Also, you could tempt fate and use salted butter on the bread crumbs which would save a step. 

This was plenty cheesy for me, but I realized I used extra sharp cheese which is stronger in flavor. It will be fine if you use what is called for.