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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Joanne Chang's Maple-Blueberry Scones

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

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






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 Joanne Chang's Maple-Blueberry Scones

Source: New York Times Cooking
Yield: 8 scones

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

Scones:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glaze:

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

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Cowboy Cookie Bars

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



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Cowboy Cookie Bars

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

Notes for baking at about 4,500 feet:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Cheddar Cheese Rounds

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



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Cheddar Cheese Rounds


Yield: about 5 dozen

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 28, 2020

Breakfast Casserole

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



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Breakfast Casserole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Melanie's Flour Tortillas

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



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Melanie's Flour Tortillas


Makes 10 or so depending on how you roll them.

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

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


Thursday, December 17, 2020

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

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

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

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






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


Yields approximately 4 quarts

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

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


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

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

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

Note:

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

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



Thursday, December 10, 2020

Grandma Betty's Picnic Cake

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

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



 

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Grandma Betty's Picnic Cake

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


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

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

1 c finely chopped dates

1 1/2 c boiling water
1 teas baking soda

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

for the topping:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Note on altitude: 

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


Friday, December 4, 2020

Uncle Sam's Cincinnati Five-way Chili (Skyline-style)

Here's a yummy and hearty recipe from my brother and Betsy's uncle.  




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Cincinnati Five-way Chili (Skyline-style)
guest post by Uncle Sam


Souce: a pamphlet from the American Heart Association years ago
Serves: About three

Ingredients:

1 lb. hamburger (lean for healthy, fatty for tasty)
2 medium onions, diced (one onion to cook, one to serve raw as a garnish)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teas chili powder (or 1/2 teas red chile flakes) 
1/2 teas ground cumin
1/2 teas ground cinnamon
1/4 teas ground allspice 
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz. can, NOT drained)
1 can kidney beans (14 oz. can, drained and rinsed)
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 T (heaping) semisweet chocolate chips
Grated cheddar cheese (as a garnish)
1/3 lb. spaghetti 


Brown the hamburger and sweat about half of the diced onions in a large pot. Bloom the minced garlic (heat directly against a cleared portion of the inner surface of the pot) for about two minutes. Bloom the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and allspice in the pot for about one minute. Add the tomatoes, kidney beans, vinegar, and chocolate chips. Simmer (the longer the better, all day if you have time, adding water if necessary). Cook the spaghetti to al dente in a separate pot about 15 minutes before serving. 

Serve in bowls, placing the chili directly on top of the spaghetti. Garnish with diced raw onions and grated cheddar cheese.

Note: the proportions of beef and bean can be  modified (if you don't have enough beef, use another can of beans). 



Saturday, November 14, 2020

Pecan Bars

I've been a long-time fan of pecan pie but I may come to prefer the buttery, nutty flavor of these bars, especially once I detach myself from the sentiment resulting from years of gooey, oversweet pies at holiday meals.



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Pecan Bars

Makes a 9X13 pan, about 24 bars

High altitude (4300-5300 ft) advice:  Check to see if bars are done at least 5 minutes before the recommended time. Mine were rather like hard butterscotch on the edges and they were baked for the lower amount of  time. 

For the crust:

8 T unsalted butter, melted
6 T granulated sugar
1/2 teas salt
1 3/4 AP flour

For the topping:

3/4 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c light corn syrup
7 T unsalted butter, melted and hot
1 teas vanilla extract
1/2 teas salt
4 c (1 pd) pecan halves, toasted
1/2 teas flake sea salt (optional)

First toast the pecans. Recipe authors recommend you don't use pecan pieces.  If you can't find halves or can't go shopping use what you have (you could even use walnuts.) I had on hand New Mexico-grown pecans which come in rough quarter pieces and I used about half a cup less since I was afraid the butter mix wouldn't cover everything.

Make the crust:

Place the oven rack on the lowest position and preheat to 350F. Prepare a 9X13 pan by making a foil sling, generously lining your pan with foil and leaving extra over the narrow sides for removing the cooled bars. Push the foil into the corners as fully as you can without tearing it. Spray lightly with cooking oil spray. 

To save on clean up, melt the butter in a medium glass bowl in a microwave. Mix in the salt and granulated sugar; stir, and then mix in the flour and stir until a dough forms. (If you prefer to melt your butter outside of the microwave, mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl of any kind and pour the butter over.) You will likely need to use your hands to get the flour to mix in completely. It is ready when you squeeze a little of the dough in your hand and it remains in place and no streaks of flour remain. Take rough walnut size pieces of the dough and place over the bottom of the prepared pan. Press them together using your fingertips and palms. Smooth the dough as well and as evenly as you can. It's best not to have holes. 

Make the topping:

Wipe out the bowl you've already used with a paper towel and add the brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, and salt. Whisk together for about 20 seconds; at first it will look like is won't come together but keep stirring. Fold in the pecans until nuts are all coated evenly.

Use a spatula to pour the nut mixture over the crust; it will be easier if you pour some near the corners. Spread it evenly over the crust and lightly push some nuts into each corner and to all edges. The recipe authors said there might be inconsequential bare patches but I had no problem with this. Place in the oven  and bake until the topping is even over the top and is rapidly bubbling over the entire surface, 23-25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 90 minutes. This may be hard to do but let them sit at least an hour so you can get them out of the pan. More importantly, let them cool so you don't end up with what my dentist calls "pizza palate."


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Lemon Dijon Green Beans

Most summers I grow more green beans than I can eat and then I don't eat them again until the next summer. Because this recipe doesn't take too long, it fits nicely into my rotation so I don't get bored dealing with the overabundance.






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Lemon Dijon Green Beans


This dish is meant to be eaten at room temperature or cool. But I'm sure you could eat it hot.
 
Serves 2-3

1/2 lb green beans, ends trimmed (or use yellow wax beans or dragon tongue beans)
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 T Dijon mustard
1/4 teas salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teas agave nectar
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 teas chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 T fresh parsley or dill)

Cook beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes or so until crisp-tender. Drain the water and shock the beans with cold water.

Mix together the lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, agave, and garlic in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in while continuing to whisk it all together. Stir in the tarragon and toss this mixture with the beans. Serve immediately or reheat in the microwave if you prefer to eat the beans warm.


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Peach and Celery Salad with Pistachios

I had hoped to sneak one more peach recipe in before it became time for pumpkin and winter squash recipes. Didn't make it. However, there is always next year. Just don't forget;  this unusual combination of ingredients works very well together. 




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Peach and Celery Salad with Pistachios


Adapted from: Cooking Light
Serves 3-4


2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 teas kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 teas freshly ground black pepper
3 c diagonally sliced celery
3 c sliced peaches
3 c baby arugula
1/4 c basil, cut in chiffonade (thin slices)
1/4 c chopped salted pistachios

Whisks the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in the bottom of a medium sized bowl. Add the celery and stir to make sure celery is completely coated. Gently stir in the peaches and arugula. With another gentle stir, add the basil. Top with the pistachios and serve.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Brown Sugar Peach Muffins

Here's one more yummy peach recipe while it's still fall. Although very tasty, the peach butter definitely gilds the lily but it does add extra peach flavor (and will use up peaches if you have that need--how I wish I had that problem this year).


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Brown Sugar Peach Muffins


Source: Washington Post 
Yield: about 20

4-5 fresh peaches, preferably ripe
4 c flour, you can use some wheat flour if you like
2/3 c packed dark brown sugar
1 teas kosher salt
2 T baking powder
1 teas baking soda
1/4 teas ground allspice
2 large eggs
2 c regular or low-fat sour cream (no nonfat sour cream here)
1/2 c vegetable oil
sugar for sprinkling--Swedish pearl sugar, or demerara, something that won't melt while baking is best


Peach Butter

8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 teas kosher salt
1/2 teas ground cinnamon
1/4 teas ground cardamom
1/4 teas vanilla extract
1 teas maple syrup (optional)


Set your oven to 400F and preheat. Place paper baking cups in standard size muffin pans. If you have only one pan, you can bake the extra batter after the first batch comes out of the oven.

Remove pits from the peaches. You may peel them if you like but it isn't necessary. Cut the peaches into half inch chunks, or chop to that size, although you'll likely have less uniform bits. Save one generous cup of chopped peaches for the butter, if you are going to make it. 

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and allspice. Move mixture to the sides of the bowl to make a well.

Mix together the eggs, sour cream and oil in a large liquid measuring cup or a bowl, and pour into the well. Stir until just moistened, forming a lumpy, rather firm batter. 

Use a large ice cream scoop or a measuring cup to fill the paper baking cups, filling them to the top or mounding the batter slightly. Sprinkle with the sugar of your choice and place in the oven. Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

In the meantime make the peach butter, if desired:

Place all ingredients except maple syrup in a mini food processor, or use a stick blender in a bowl. Puree all together until mostly smooth. Taste the butter and if you want it a bit sweeter, add some of the maple syrup.

When the muffins are finished (use a toothpick to test that there is no wet batter) place them on a cooling rack using tongs. If you used only one muffin tin, divide the remaining batter among paper cups, sprinkle with sugar, and bake the rest.

Serve the muffins while warm with the butter if you made it.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Peach Poundcake

I know it's October, but it is still firmly harvest season for me, and I'm nursing a few more peach desserts out of the quarter bushel of peaches slowly going bad in my fridge. Here was a decadent one I tried recently. The simple peach glaze on this cake is out of this world. Judging from the picture on the original recipe, I need to make more of it next time. 



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Peach Poundcake

Yield: one 9X5 cake

The recipe specifies red-hued peaches. The bolder the color of the peaches you use, the more blush will color the glaze will have. However, if you are bothered by tiny flecks of skin you can peel the peaches. Don't let current shopping difficulties keep you from trying this cake. You can even use frozen peaches.

To bake at altitudes around 5000 feet, make these changes:
add 2 1/2 T flour
remove 1 1/2 T granulated sugar

1 c unsalted butter (2 sticks) melted and cooled to room temperature, plus more for the pan
2 1/2 c all purpose flour, plus more for the pan
3 medium, ripe, red-hued peaches (about a pound)
1 T fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, beaten
1 1/2 teas vanilla extract
1 c unsifted confectioners' sugar, plus more as needed
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
2 1/2 teas baking powder
3/4 teas kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare a 9X5 loaf pan by lightly buttering and flouring it.

Dice 1 peach into 1/3-inch pieces. Use a paper towel to pat them dry and set them aside. 

Place the remaining 2 peaches in a food processor or blender and purée them by running on high. Place 1 level cup of the purée into a mixing bowl followed by the butter, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Combine with a whisk.

Scrape down the sides of the processor or blender and make the icing with the remaining peach purée. Add 1 c confectioners' sugar to the purée and blend on high until well mixed. The glaze should be thick but a consistency that can be drizzled. To adjust add more sugar or water. Set aside, covered, until time to glaze the cake.

Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the peach mixture to the flour mixture and whisk or stir well until well combined. Fold in the diced peaches. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Use the spatula to even out the top of the cake. Move to the oven and bake until the cake is crusty and golden brown about 75-80 minutes. Text by inserting a toothpick in the center. It should come out clean. Remove the cake from the oven. After 10 minutes cooling in the pan invert the cake and carefully remove it from the pan and place it on a cooling rack . 

While the cake is still warm, stir the icing one more time and spread or drizzle it over the top of the cake. Allow the extra to drizzle down the sides. 

Completely cool the cake and slice and serve. You can gild the lily by serving with peaches and cream.

Tightly wrap the leftovers and store on the counter for no more than 3 days if it makes it that long.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Melanie's Green Chile Stew

Late summer and early fall bring an unmistakable and delicious aroma to New Mexico when the chile harvest is roasted in gas cylinder roasters at roadside stands, markets, and supermarkets. It's one of the best things about living in New Mexico and I've missed it this year since I'm home more. However, I was able to purchase chile curbside from a grocery store and roasted them on my grill so I didn't totally miss out on the pleasant smell of roasted chile. This soup is from my sister-in-law who is a native New Mexican with special thanks from my brother Sam who gave me his copy of the recipe. 



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Melanie's Green Chile Stew


This is one of those home recipes with a good deal of latitude about ingredient amounts, especially with the green chile. Chile can come mild, medium, or hot and people come with varying abilities to tolerate the heat. The original recipe calls for at least a cup and a half of chopped green chile. While the heat is an important aspect of this soup, the flavor of the chile is paramount in my mind. If you are like me, a bit of a wimp when faced with high heat, you should look for mild chile. Stir in a little at a time and taste as you go. I know from experience there's nothing quite like the dismayed look on the faces of a table full of hungry folks who can't eat what you cooked for them. 

 As for potatoes, I think a waxy potato is best, but if you don't mind a russet falling apart while cooking go ahead and use a baking potato. 

2 pds ground beef
1-2 onions, depending on size
salt and pepper to taste
several cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 quarts chicken broth
4-6 potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
green or Hatch chile, see note above--stir in a little at a time, tasting as you go
1 T ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
mexican oregano
bay leaf

Brown the ground beef with the onions. When the onions are translucent and the beef is browned, add the garlic and cook for just a minute. Add the broth. Stir in the potatoes, chile, spices and herbs. Cook until the potatoes are done. Serve with flour tortillas, or corn, if you prefer. Chopped epazote as a garnish is delicious but not everyone can lay their hands on it.

Note: 

I suppose you could substitute poblano chile for the Hatch, or New Mexican chile and this would still be good but it wouldn't be quite the same. New Mexican chile is becoming more available all the time and I've heard of it being sold in Utah, Colorado, and Virginia, so I imagine it is being introduced other places as well. Hoping you can try it with the real thing sometime.  

Grilled Corn Salad

Although this was featured on the Mexican cooking show, Pati's Mexican Table, it doesn't seem exclusively Mexican. I'm certain this salad could be used for a number of other cuisines by changing the herbs or adding other vegetables. I think this would be great with basil or oregano to accompany an Italian meal  The next time I have it with Mexican, I'm going to use epazote or Mexican oregano  instead of the mint and chives.






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Grilled Corn Salad


Adapted from Pati Jinich's recipe
Serves 6-8

4-6 ears of corn (I found 4 large ears to be sufficient) equaling 6-7 c of corn kernels
10 scallions (or substitute yellow onion slices, chop after grilling)
5 T olive oil
1 1/2 pds cherry tomatoes
1 teas kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 T red wine vinegar
1/4 c chopped or torn mint
1/4 c chopped chives, garlic chives if you have them


Remove the husks from the corn and rinse and dry. Heat a grill or a cast iron grill pan on your stovetop. When warm, cook the ears of corn for about 20 minutes until they are charred and cooked through. Remove from the grill and add the scallions and grill until charred. Watch these carefully or consider turning down the grill heat since they can over cook easily. Set aside.  When you are able to handle the corn, cut the kernels off each cob and cut the scallions in one-inch pieces. Place in a salad bowl. These can be refrigerated for a couple of days before you serve the salad if needed.

Place the 5 T olive oil into a large skillet and heat over medium high to high heat. Add the cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes have released some of their juices and, if you like, continue cooking until the tomatoes have begun to char. I didn't do this because I wanted all the released tomato juice and didn't want it to burn in the skillet.

 Stir the vinegar into the corn and scallion mix. Add the tomatoes and the juice and oil to the salad. Stir gently. Add the mint and chives and stir once more. Serve.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Chicken with Black-eyed Peas and Cherry Tomatoes

As we approach the end of summer, my garden-based meals start to reflect heartiness often found in fall and winter dishes. I credit the harvest of my black-eyed peas. This recipe is one that can be enjoyed all year round. 



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Chicken with Black-eyed Peas and Cherry Tomatoes


Source: Christian Science Monitor which adapted a Bon Appétit recipe for sausage
Serves 6-8

4 pieces bacon, cut in quarter inch slices
8 bone-in chicken pieces (if using breasts, cut them in half)
salt and pepper
1 rounded teas dried thyme, divided (or 1 T fresh thyme)
1 medium onion, halved and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 c dry white wine
1 11-oz or 12-oz frozen shelled black eyed peas, thawed (about 2 cups)
8 oz fresh green beans, trimmed
8-10 oz cherry tomatoes, halved if large

Place the bacon into a nonstick skillet or saute pan and cook until the fat is rendered and it is as crisp as you like. Using a slotted spoon remove the bacon and hold until later.

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and half of the dried thyme. (If you're using fresh thyme don't add it at this point.) Place the chicken in the pan and cook over medium-high heat and brown the chicken on both sides. Move chicken to a plate or half sheet pan. Remove some of the bacon fat leaving a couple of tablespoons in the pan. 

Cook the onion slices until translucent. Add the garlic and the rest of the dried thyme and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant. Pour in the wine and bring to a boil and add the broth. Stir in the black-eyed peas until combined.

Return the chicken pieces to the pan as well as the juices that accumulated while set aside. Reduce the heat and cover the pan and cook until the black-eyed peas are beginning to become tender, around 15-20 minutes. Stir in the green beans and cook for about 5 minutes more. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until heated about 5 more minutes. The tomatoes should begin to split and the broth should be thickening, If you are using fresh thyme, now is the time to add it. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper if necessary.

While the black-eyed peas and vegetables are cooking, it's a good idea to check the temperature of the chicken pieces. With a probe thermometer make sure the breast pieces are at 165F and the thighs and legs are at 175F. If the chicken reaches the target temperatures, remove and set on a plate while everything else cooks. Replace in the pan and warm the chicken before serving with the chicken placed on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle the reserved bacon over all. 

Serve the chicken on top of the vegetables and black-eyed peas.

Notes: 

You can shell your own black-eyed peas in season if you wish. Aim for about 2 cups of fresh shell peas.

If you prefer to skip the wine, increase the broth to 3 cups and just before serving the dish stir in a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar.

If you are cooking this when available green beans are substandard, I think you could experiment with subbing other vegetables, such as halved brussels sprouts (although you might need a larger pan since they don't have the slim lines of a green bean). 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Peach Drop Biscuits

I look forward to Saturday mornings this time of year. Usually I forgo sleeping in to visit two local farmers markets, and upon arriving back home I gleefully show my purchases to my family. They are typically unimpressed. In fact, only a few people understand the joy that big farmers' market hauls bring to me--but that doesn't lessen my delight one bit!

This year, though, I have opted to stay home to avoid crowds. I have discovered a couple of workable alternatives, and between my half-CSA share, a farm stand, and a weekly farm delivery order option I have managed to enjoy many of my normal harvest-time fruits and veggies. I visited the farm stand about a week ago, and came home with a half-bushel of peaches, a quarter-bushel of pears, and an eighth-bushel of pluots. It was too much, really, but I just couldn't help myself. So, I was suddenly baking peach goodies whenever I had time. 

The texture of this "biscuit" is lovely. Crusty on the outside but tender on the inside. I even used it as a base for peach shortcake one night. 


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Peach Drop Biscuits

Yields 12 biscuits (I doubled it for my big family, so halve it if you don't need this many)
Adapted minimally from https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1021175-strawberry-drop-biscuits

1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c granulated sugar
8 teas baking powder
12 T cold salted butter, but into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/3 c peaches, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 c heavy cream, divided
1/2 c powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 425F, and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Stir the pieces of butter into the mixture, just to coat the butter. Then work the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the pieces of butter are no larger than a pea. 

Add the peaches, and stir gently. Add 1/2 c cream and 1/2 c water, then toss with a fork until the dough is just wet. If the dough is still too dry, add a couple of teaspoons water. 

Drop the dough in generous 1/3 c amounts onto sheets, leaving at least 1 1/2 inches of space between each mound. Brush the tops with 2 T cream before baking for about 15 minutes. The biscuits should be golden brown. Place the biscuits on a wire rack to cool.

As soon as the biscuits come out of the oven, whisk the powdered sugar with the remaining 2 T cream. This should make a thick icing. Drizzle the icing over the warm biscuits, and enjoy. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Pork Chops with Salted Plums

One of the best things about summer is having fruits with meat. This summer has been more challenging for getting fruits and sometimes what I get is less that the best. This recipe is a good one for plums that come from a grocery store instead of a market or a backyard.



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Pork Chops with Salted Plums


Source:  Alison Roman in New York Times Cooking
Serves 4

Since I'm currently not going to my regular butcher and instead take what I get in a curbside pickup, I learned this recipe works with a thinner pork chop, too. I didn't brine the thinner chops but I was careful not to overcook them--I had to ignore timing recommendations. Thin chops might benefit from a brine, especially if you keep the salt and fish sauce lower in the plums. I did not slice these chops but served them whole.


2 bone-in thick pork chops (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick, about 1 1/2 pounds in weight)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pd medium  slightly under-ripe plums, pitted and sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c unseasoned rice wine vinegar or fresh lime juice, plus more, if needed
1/2 teas fish sauce (optional, but tasty)
1 T vegetable oil
1 c fresh mint leaves
olive oil, for drizzling

Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper and set aside.

Place the plums and onion slices in a bowl and toss with the vinegar and fish sauce. Add a bit of salt and pepper and taste a plum. It should taste tangy and salty. If it doesn't, add more vinegar and salt. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. Add the pork chops when hot and cook. Keep the chops in place for 4-6 minutes and don't move until well browned. Flip the chops and continue to cook until this side is browned about 3-5 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer you may want to use it here. I found that these recommended times resulted in quite pink meat. USDA and the National Pork Board recommend cooking to 145F in addition to a 3-minute rest. 

Remove from heat and place the chops on a cutting board. Allow them to rest while you briefly cook the plum and onions in the same skillet. Toss the mix and try to scrape up the fond and cook only long enough to wilt the onion. 

The author of this recipe instructs cooks to slice thick pork chops and serve with the plum mixture, topping the pork slices with the mint and drizzling with olive oil just before serving. This works tolerably well with very thick pork chop but it leaves the bone and bits of the chop languishing on the cutting board. But, as I mentioned above, thinner chops can be substituted. 

Peach Cobbler with Hot Sugar Crust

This recipe uses a technique which was new to me, except in hot pudding cakes. On first glance it appears it won't work. But this cobbler sports a lovely, crisp topping.





Unless you are serving a large group, I recommend you half this recipe and bake in an 8X8 pan. The cobbler is best right after baking and for a day or two afterwards; any longer and the topping will lose its crunch.

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Peach Cobbler with Hot Sugar Crust


No modifications were made for altitude and it turned out great.

Adapted from Food52.com
Serves 10 or more

10 large ripe peaches (about 4 1/2 pds), pitted but not peeled and cut into chunks about an inch in size
1 large lemon
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
2 c sugar, divided
1 1/2 c AP flour
2 teas baking powder
1 teas kosher salt (or 1/2 teas table salt)
3/4 c whole milk
1/2 c hot water
Heavy cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle

Place the peaches in a buttered 9X13 baking dish. Using a microplane, zest the lemon evenly over the fruit. Squeeze the lemon and drizzle 1/4 cup of the juice over the fruit as well.

Cream the butter and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar on medium for a minute or so, until it is creamy but sandy. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and on medium speed, beat until incorporated and all is crumbly (30 seconds or more). Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Slowly pour in the milk while the mixer is on low speed. Beat a couple of minutes until the batter is light and fluffy.

Use a large spoon or the rubber spatula to drop 6 large portions of the mix over the peaches. (Make sure you get all the batter.) Carefully spread the batter with an offset spatula so that all the fruit is covered. Try to spread it evenly so that it is all about 1/2 inch thick overall.

Take the remaining half cup of sugar and sprinkle it evenly over the batter. In a small stream, drizzle the sugar topped batter with the hot water which will melt the sugar.

Place the pan on top of a large baking sheet and place both in the oven. Bake the cobbler until the top is crackly and golden brown, about 70-80 minutes. Use a toothpick to test; it will come out clean or with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Check in several spots.

Allow the cobbler to cool for about 30 minutes. Serve it warm with the cream poured over the top. If you have leftovers, cover and refrigerate.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Ratatouille

This vegetable stew is one of my favorite things to eat in late summer when I have an abundance of vegetables in my garden. But it can be cooked any time if you choose to use canned tomatoes.

The author of this recipe utilizes a method that keeps all the flavors fresh tasting by keeping the parts separated a bit while cooking so it doesn't turn into a mushy mess.

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Ratatouille


Source:  The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook by Kim O'Donnel
Serves: 6

1 large globe eggplant (about a pound) or 3 thinner Asian eggplants
salt for leaching eggplant
5 T olive oil, divided
2 medium onions sliced thinly (about 2 cups)
3 red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and julienned (about 2 1/2 c)
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow or green zucchini, cut into half moons (about 2 1/2 c)
ground black pepper
6 medium vine-ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 3 c) or 1 (28-oz) can plum tomatoes
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 teas dried
1 teas dried oregano
chopped fresh basil and/or parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Dice the eggplant into half-inch cubes (about 5-6 c). Sprinkle with salt and place on a rack or in a colander to drain for about 30 minutes. (This leaching step is not required but it will reduce liquid.)

With a towel pat the eggplant dry. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 T of the olive oil. Toss and spread into a single layer. Put the eggplant in the hot oven and roast for 15 minutes until the eggplant browns and shrinks substantially. Take it out of the oven and set aside.

You'll need a large skillet as well as a large lidded saucepan or Dutch oven which you can keep on a burner on the lowest warm setting.

Heat another 2 T oil in the skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions until tender and stir in the peppers with a generous pinch of salt. Cook until the peppers are soft.

Add half the garlic and stir for a minute and transfer all from the skillet to the Dutch oven (or saucepan).

In the skillet heat 1 T olive oil over medium-high heat and add the zucchini and some salt and pepper. Cook until the zucchini is tender but still retains its color. Add the remaining garlic; cook for a minute and then add the mixture to the Dutch oven. Stir the vegetables together.

Chop or mash the tomatoes with a potato masher so they are broken up. Add them to the vegetables along with the thyme and oregano. Stir in the eggplant. This mixture will be thick but as the tomatoes release liquid it will loosen up. If it remains thicker than you like add a few tablespoons of water. Raise the temperature to medium-low and mix the ingredients well. Cover and allow to cook for 12-15 minutes until heated through. Taste for seasonings and remove herb sprigs. Serve.

This can be served with couscous, quinoa, or orzo. Crusty bread would be great, too.

Note:

If you can't entertain the idea of heating your late summer kitchen with a 450F oven, you can pan-roast the eggplant before you start cooking everything else. Heat the olive oil in your large skillet (can be nonstick if you prefer) over medium high heat and cook the eggplant after leaching and patting dry. Stir from time to time so it doesn't scorch and cook until browned and tender. Set aside in a bowl. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel and begin cooking the onions as instructed above.

If I'm in a rush, I'll employ more than one skillet and cook onions and zucchini at the same time but in separate pans and you'll be able to control how "done" each vegetable becomes. This will speed preparation somewhat but will make for more pans to wash, of course.


Friday, August 14, 2020

Second Best Pesto Method


Most of the experts I read indicate they think the best way to make pesto is in a mortar and pestle. 


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Second Best Pesto Method 


The source is an article written by Ella Quittner in Food52.com in which she reports on testing she undertook to find the best method to make pesto. She based her recipe on one found in a book published last fall Pasta Grannies by Vicky Bennison. (I just love the title of that book!)

Yields about 1/3 c or enough for 3/4 pound of pasta depending on your preference.


1 clove garlic
1/2 teas salt (rock salt can provide grinding traction, but coarse kosher is fine, as is table salt but use less table salt)
3-ish cups basil leaves (tender, young leaves if possible unless you grow your own)
3-ish T Italian pine nuts, untoasted, or chopped walnuts since true Italian pine nuts are expensive and you may not have them in your pantry
1/3 c mildly flavored extra-virgin olive oil
a heaping 1/3 c grated cheese (can be a mix of parmigiano reggiano and pecorino romano)



Put all ingredients minus the cheese and olive oil, into a wide jar (a quart-size container or quart mason jar or a pickle jar; anything slightly wider than the immersion blender). With the immersion blender, blend as finely as possible. Stop and scrape the sides and the inside of the blender occasionally. You'll end up with a paste (I guess that's where it gets its name). 

Drizzle the olive oil in as best you can while still running the blender (or simply pour it in and then run the blender). Add the cheese and continue blending. I ended up with a nearly smooth product. 


Notes:

I found it simpler to blend when I coarsely chopped the basil leaves and used something wider than a quart mason jar. Even a saved quart yogurt container works here and it's much easier to scrape out the finished pesto. When I tripled the recipe, I did it in a medium sized bowl.

I once saw a suggestion for using pecans. I haven't tried that yet but I liked walnuts more than I thought I would. 

I wanted the pesto to stay a bit greener so I added a half cup of parsley to the basil. I didn't notice much change in flavor.

I have enough basil I will need to freeze some of this for the winter. When researching, I found both pros and cons for freezing it with the cheese already mixed in. I ended up freezing mine without cheese and will just stir it into the pasta when I mix in the pesto. I find it easy to freeze in a quart-size freezer bag and then I can break off what I need.

White Grape Jelly

In the Ball canning book this recipe calls for scuppernong grapes. I don't grow those, nor do I know where to get them. I use a variety of white seeded grapes that was planted by a previous owner of my home. 





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White Grape Jelly


Source: The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving
Yields about 6 half pint jars (I get 7 consistently)

3 2/3 c white grape juice obtained by your favorite method, see below
5 1/2 c sugar
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 (3-oz) pouch liquid pectin

Prepare jars for canning by washing and heating in very boiling water in your canner. Also wash and prepare lids and bands. Place the lids in a bowl of boiling hot water and let sit until you top the jars.

Combine grape juice, sugar, and lemon juice in a Dutch oven or very large saucepan or pasta pot. The jelly will boil up and a large pot will help contain it. Over high heat, bring the ingredients to a full rolling boil that can't be stirred down. Stir frequently, especially as the bubbles rise.

Stir in the pectin, all at once, squeezing the packet to get all of it out of the pouch. Keep the jelly boiling hard while stirring constantly for one minute. Turn off the heat. Skim foam, if necessary.

Remove hot jars from canner and ladle the hot jelly into the jars leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Clean the  jar rims with a clean wet paper towel and set lids on top of each jar. Put the bands on and tighten with your fingertips. Place jars in the canner and ensure they are covered with water to an inch above the tops of the jars.

Process 10 minutes (sea level) and adjust for altitude:

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 finished, turn off heat and allow jars to sit in the hot water for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and set where they won't be disturbed for 24 hours.

Check seals; lids should be indented and you shouldn't be able to move them.

Wash jars, label, and store in a cool dry place for up to a year,



Notes:

I use a steam juicer. If you don't have one use this method for removing juice from grapes:

Wash 5 1/4 pounds grapes, remove and discard stems. Bring grapes and 1 c water to a boil in a pasta pot or Dutch oven, stirring often. Boil for 20 minutes, stirring frequently or until most of the seeds have been released from the pulp. Mash the grapes with a potato masher to slip seeds from pulp

Line a large wire-mesh strainer with 3 layers of damp cheesecloth. Place over a large bowl and pour grapes into the strainer. Let drain at least an hour to get required 3 2/3 c juice. Discard solids.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Sheet Pan Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs with Red Cabbage

Early in the stay at home orders caused by the pandemic of 2020, Betsy and I chatted and learned that we had both made this recipe within the same week without having told one another of our interest in it. It's a very yummy dish.

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Sheet Pan Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs with Red Cabbage


Source:  Washington Post, January 16, 2020
Serves:  4-6

I haven't done it, but I believe green cabbage may be substituted for the red if that is what you have. If you do use green I suggest you substitute a yellow onion for the red. However, a red cabbage results in an extraordinarily attractive dish.

2 1/2 T grainy mustard
3 T maple syrup, divided
1/2 teas freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 pds skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
8 c thinly sliced red cabbage, about 1/2 a medium head
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly into half moons
5 T apple cider vinegar, divided
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 teas caraway seeds
1/2 teas kosher salt; add more to taste

Note: the more thinly the cabbage is sliced, the more quickly it will cook.

Place the oven rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 450F.

Mix the mustard, 1 T of the maple syrup, and 1/4 teas of the pepper into a small bowl.

Put the chicken thighs on a lightly oiled large rimmed baking sheet and pat dry with paper towels. Pour the mustard mixture over the thighs and rub it all over the skin. Arrange the thighs skin side up and place in the oven; roast for 20 minutes or so, until the skin has started to crisp up.

Remove the baking sheet and reduce the heat to 375F.  Remove the chicken from the sheet to a plate and discard accumulated fat.

Toss the cabbage, onion, 4 T of the vinegar, onion, oil, and remaining 2 T of the maple syrup as well as caraway seeds and salt plus the remaining 1/4 teas of black pepper. Dump the cabbage mix onto the baking sheet, spreading it evenly. Nestle the chicken with the skin side up into the cabbage and return the baking sheet to the oven.

Roast for 20-25 minutes until the cabbage has softened somewhat and the thighs are measuring 170F on a meat thermometer. If the chicken is done before the cabbage, pull the thighs off the pan and keep warm on a platter, covering with foil. Return the cabbage to the oven covered with foil until it has reached the tenderness you desire. Remove from the oven.

Use the remaining tablespoons of vinegar to drizzle over chicken and serve with cabbage.

Buttercup Cookies

A year ago this month, we joined family members in Iceland for the burial of our little grand daughter Sóley. Recently I've comforted myself when marking anniversaries of the loss of loved ones by cooking something they enjoyed eating. I'm unable to do that so I found a recipe that represents a buttercup bloom to me, for that is what her name means in Icelandic.  



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Buttercup Cookies


Cook's Country (Hazelnut-Lemon Curd Kisses)
20-24 cookies

altitude changes for around 5000 feet:

add 1 T flour
decrease the sugar by 1 teaspoon

(Once I baked these and forgot to make altitude changes. They were still good, although slightly more fragile.)


1 c AP flour
3/4 c hazelnuts or pecans, toasted
pinch salt
8 T unsalted butter, softened
1/3 c granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teas vanilla extract
approximately 1/2 c lemon curd (purchased or homemade)
1/4 c confectioner's sugar, optional

Make the dough:

Set oven racks to upper- and low-middle. Preheat oven to 350F. Place parchment paper on 2 baking sheets. Place flour, nuts, salt in a food processor and grind until finely ground.

Place butter and granulated sugar in a bowl (either stand mixer or otherwise) and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating until completely mixed in. On a lower speed, mix in the flour mixture just until incorporated.

Roll  dough into a 1-inch balls and setting each on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Grease a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon and use it to make an indentation in the center of each ball. You'll probably have to grease the spoon repeatedly. Bake about 10 minutes until just set.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and gently press the measuring spoon into the existing holes to reinforce the existing indentations. Return to oven and continue baking, rotating and switching, until the cookies begin to brown around the edges (around 10 minutes, depending on altitude). On cooling racks, cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then move each cookie the the rack until they have cooled completely. The cookies can be stored for 2 days at room temperature; they can be frozen, too, if you keep them in a single layer.

Once you have determined how many cookies you are serving, fill the imprint in each cookie with a teaspoon of lemon curd. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, if desired, and serve immediately.
Remaining cookies can be stored at room temperature for a couple of days until you are ready to fill and eat them. If you prefer, you may store them in the freezer but they tend to survive better if frozen in a single layer.

Place the lemon curd in the fridge until you serve the remaining cookies.

Cook's Country's instructions vary considerably from my own. The curd is baked in their version. Here are instructions for the process:

When the cookies have been baked the first 10 minutes. remove from the oven and deepen the imprints. While the cookie is still hot, fill each dimple with half a teaspoon of lemon curd. Return the sheets to the oven and bake for around 10 minutes until they have browned at the edges. Follow the advise above for rotating, removing, and cooling. Allow to cool before serving and sprinkle with  confectioner's sugar, if you like. This version can be kept at room temperature for a couple of days. I've cooked this version so rarely that I cannot advise about freezing.


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Dark Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Mix-ins

These cookies deserve a better name, I know. But here's the story, so you'll know where the name comes from. Lately at the grocery store I've been browsing a bit more, grabbing things that I might want when they're on the shelves, instead of counting on the store being fully stocked all the time. Once, when I couldn't find the mini chocolate chips I was looking for, I grabbed a bag of peanut butter chips, thinking they would be good in a chocolate cookie. After researching my options, and waiting for a price-gouged bag of dark Reese's peanut butter cups to be delivered, I tried and enjoyed the inspiration recipe. But I wanted something with a bit more dark chocolate flavor, so I used a tried-and-true chocolate cookie recipe and added some of the peanut butter mix-ins. In a side-by-side taste test, I found the cookies from the inspiration recipe a bit crumbly, and their chocolate flavor paled in comparison. So while these cookies have both dark chocolate and peanut butter flavors, there isn't any peanut butter in the cookie so I can't call them chocolate and peanut butter cookies, because I didn't like the cookies that actually had chocolate and peanut butter both! Semantics? Probably. Delicious anyway? You bet. 



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Dark Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Mix-ins


Adapted from https://www.lovefromtheoven.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-cookies/ and http://www.piecrustcookies.com/2015/12/chocolate-peppermint-cookies.html
Yields about 3 dozen

To bake at altitudes around 5000 feet, make these changes:
add 2 T flour
remove 2 T granulated sugar

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
3/4 c Dutch-processed cocoa
1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
1 c light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teas vanilla 
1 c dark chocolate chips
1 c peanut butter chips
10 Reese's dark chocolate peanut butter cups, frozen and roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream the butter and sugars in a mixer until smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl to incorporate everything. Add the eggs and the vanilla, and mix until combined. Then add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa and mix briefly until almost combined. Finally, add the both types of chips and the candy. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are set but still soft in the center. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack. Enjoy with a glass of milk! 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Turkish Flatbread

The only thing to say about this recipe is that it is the main reason I recently bought an overpriced block of yeast from a specialty store online. 

After reading about conserving yeast here, I tried halving the yeast and the dough still doubled in an hour. That might be a high altitude issue, but next time I'm going to reduce the yeast even more and see what happens. Can't burn through that overpriced brick too fast! 

Note that this stack is a portion of a doubled recipe


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Turkish Flatbread


Yields 6 flatbreads

250 g all purpose flour
250 g white whole wheat flour (or just another 250 g or all purpose, if you prefer)
5 fl. oz. warm milk
5 fl. oz. warm water
1 teas salt
2 T dry yeast
3 T olive oil, plus more for brushing on 

In a mixer bowl  fitted with a dough hook, mix together the flour, salt, and yeast for 10 seconds or so, until combined. Then add the warm milk and water and process just until the liquids are incorporated. Add the olive oil and run the mixer for 5 minutes or so. 

Form the dough into a ball, and place in a large bowl. Spread a light layer of vegetable oil over the top of the dough, and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 1 hour or until doubled in size. 

Place a cast iron pan over medium heat. Cut the dough into 6 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Roll out each dough ball with a rolling pin, then cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Brush each hot flatbread with more olive oil, and enjoy.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Pantry Crumb Cake

Like many other across the country, I'm baking more than normal these days. It's more for comfort and less out of boredom in my case; the current situation is providing a new test of my limits. I'm working from home, overseeing schooling for two older boys, caring for a toddler and a preschooler, and helping everyone deal with their emotions while also feeling quite a few emotions myself. So every comforting banana muffin helps.

Among the multiple recent batches of banana muffins are almond joy rice krispy treats, rice krispy treats with peppermint marshmallows, chocolate bread pudding, and this new-to-me pantry cake. A commenter on the original recipe suggested renaming it Covid Comfort Cake, so I'm not the only one who has enjoyed it. I hope it's comforting to you!



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Pantry Crumb Cake


1  8 or 9-inch round or square cake
Source: New York Times Cooking https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1020946-pantry-crumb-cake

To bake at altitudes around 5000 feet make these changes to the cake amounts:
add 1 1/2 T flour
remove 1/2 T sugar

For the topping:

1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 c oats
1 teas spices (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, or nutmeg in any combination; I used 3/4 teas cinnamon and 1/4 teas cardamom)
1/2 teas salt

For the cake:

1 1/2 c flour
1 teas baking powder
1/4 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 teas vanilla
2/3 c sour cream, yogurt or nondairy yogurt, buttermilk, crème fraîche, or milk acidified with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest (optional)
½ cup fresh, frozen and thawed, or canned fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries, cherries, grated apple or pear, chopped pineapple (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F and butter your cake pan. This will work in an 8- or 9-inch round or square pan.

Mix all the topping ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

The original recipe was fiddly about combining ingredients. Here's my lazy version: beat the butter and sugar in a mixer for several minutes until fluffy and light. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat again, scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl a couple of times. Mix in the sour cream fully, then add the flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix until just combined. If using, fold in the zest and/or fruit by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Stir the topping mixture so it breaks up into crumbs and then sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the batter. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean, and let the cake cool in the pan.