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Saturday, August 6, 2022

Chopped Carrot Salad with Fennel, Orange, and Nuts

Here's a great salad for when summer heat slows down lettuce production. It's also good in cool seasons, too.




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Chopped Carrot Salad with Fennel, Orange, and Nuts


Source:  Cook's Illustrated 
Serves: 4-6

3/4 c hazelnuts, toasted and skinned, or you can use pecans and skip the work of skinning
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
2 T white wine vinegar
1 T honey
1/2-1 teas salt 
1/2 teas freshly ground pepper
1/4 teas grated orange zest plus 1/3 c juice
1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded, bulb halved and cored, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pd carrots, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 c fresh chives (or as much as you can come up with


Cook's Illustrated suggests you leave the peels on well-scrubbed carrots because they add flavor. 

Place the nuts in a food processor and chop coarsely, about 10 pulses. Remove to a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, and orange zest, and juice. In the empty food processor, chop the fennel coarsely, 10-20 seconds, and scrape the work bowl if needed. Place the chopped fennel into the large bowl with the dressing. Then chop the carrots in the food processor, running it 10-20 seconds. Place the carrots in the bowl with the fennel. Stir well. Add half of the chives and nuts and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with the remaining chives and nuts. Or divide the salad among individual plates and top with the chives and nuts before serving. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Corn and Cucumber Salad

Nice for summer time, especially when it gets so hot that the farmer's markets have a lower supply of lettuce. The very flavorful dressing recipe could be used for other salads.




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Corn and Cucumber Salad


from Cook's Country Magazine
Serves 4-6


1/2 c olive oil
4 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs
salt and pepper
5 T lime juice (3 limes) (or you can substitute lemon)
1/4 c sour cream
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, halved, seeded and sliced thin (optional)
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (3/4 c)
1/3 c fresh basil leaves, torn or cut in chiffonade (thin strips)

 In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat bring 1 T of the oil to the point that it shimmers and add the corn, 1/4 teas salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the kernels become tender and display some brown spots. Transfer to a large bowl and place in a fridge to allow to cool completely, about 45 minutes. If you don't have that amount of time, spread the corn on a baking sheet to cool before placing in the fridge.

In the meantime, in a small bowl whisk the lime juice together with the remainder of the oil (7 T), another 1/4 teas salt, and 1/2 teas pepper. Reserve 1/4 c of the lime mixture in a separate bowl and add the onion and jalapeno to what's left of the mix. Stir well and allow the onions and jalapeno to sit for at least 15 minutes while the corn is chilled. To the reserved vinaigrette add the sour cream, stir well and set aside.

When the corn is chilled and the onions have rested, mix the cucumbers into the corn, add the onion-jalapeno mixture (including the juices) and toss until all ingredients are coated. Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper if needed. Stir in basil leaves. Plate or serve, passing the feta and the sour cream dressing.

Note:

The amount of dressing is small so allowing diners a free hand may delete your supply before it makes it around the table. 

The magazine suggests serving this salad from a platter which allows you to top with the feta and the dressing before passing it to diners. If you know you won't finish the salad in one meal and hope to save left overs, don't add the basil, feta, or dressing. Refrigerate with those ingredients held separately, although you should wait to cut the basil until just before serving.

Zucchini, Chard, and Onions

This is a good time of year for this tasty side dish. 





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Zucchini, Chard, and Onions

Adapted from: Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy
Serves 3-5

The zucchini can be cut in large chunks or into logs. Using zucchini of varying colors results in a very attractive dish.

3 T olive oil, plus oil to finish
1 onion, sliced a scant half in thick
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 T chopped marjoram or oregano
1 1/2 pds zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks, or logs about 2-inches in length
salt and freshly ground pepper
8 chard leaves, stems removed and leaves chopped, coarsely
1/4 c water or stock
Lemon wedges for serving

Use a wide pan that can hold a good deal with a tight fitting lid. An 11-12-saute pan works great here. Over medium heat, cook the oil  for a minute or two and add the onion, garlic and half of whichever herb you chose. Stir occasionally while it cooks for a few minutes until softened. Place the zucchini chunks into the pan; add  half a teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper to taste  and stir until the oil coats the zucchini. Lay the chopped chard on top of the zucchini and season it with a couple of pinches of salt. Pour in the water and cover the pan.  Lower the heat to medium low. 

Cook at a gentle simmer until the zucchini is tender, 20-30 minutes. Stir the chard into the squash taking care not to smash things up. Add the remaining herb and cover and cook for another a couple of minutes. Serve with the lemon wedges. If you prefer, you can squeeze lemon juice right in the pan.

Notes:

The original recipe called for a half cup of water which left me with swimming vegetables, so I have reduced the amount called for. You may want to check it half way through the cooking time to see if you need to add a little more.

Consider experimenting with other veggies.

Use fresh dill and dill seeds in place of marjoram or oregano.

Add a handful of small halved grape tomatoes in the last few minutes.

If you want a contrasting texture, top with some toasted bread crumbs.

For a main dish, add some cooked pasta or tortellini.


Savory Crunch Topping

I like this to use on a savory breakfast such as Greek yogurt and cucumbers or avocado toast. It would be good on a savory oatmeal, too.




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Savory Crunch Topping


The creator of this recipe calls it "Decidedly Not-Sweet Granola"

Adapted from Alison Roman's Dining In

3/4 c rolled oats
1/3 c finely chopped walnuts
1/2 c raw sunflower seeds
1/2 c raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 c buckwheat groats
1/2 c flaxseeds
1/4 c black or white sesame seeds
2 T nigella seeds (if unavailable, use more black or white sesame seeds)
2 T fennel or caraway seeds 
1 T Aleppo pepper, optional
1/2 teas freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 large or extra large egg white
3 T olive oil, peanut oil, or grapeseed oil
2 T maple syrup
1 T soy sauce
1 1/2 teas kosher salt

Heat oven to 325F. Oil a baking sheet. 

Pile the oats, walnuts, all the seeds and spices in the middle of the baking sheet. Give it a stir. 

In a small bowl beat the egg white, oil, maple syrup, soy sauce and salt. Drizzle over the top of the mix on the sheet and with a rubber spatula mix until everything is coated. 

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool on a rack and break up any large clumps. I store half of this in the fridge and try to use it in a few weeks and the other half I keep in the freezer until I move it into the fridge.



Yogurt Saffron Sauce for Trout or Halibut (and probably others)

My favorite way to eat fresh trout is to panfry them and drizzle the cooked fish with a melted butter with a pinch of saffron. Saffron and trout are a match made in heaven but I am limiting how much butter I consume. I was happy to find an alternative sauce which may be somewhat healthier. 




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Yogurt Saffron Sauce

Source: NYTimes Cooking
Yield: about a cup, I usually half the recipe for the two of us


1 c plain yogurt, preferably full-fat but homemade low-fat works well, too
salt and pepper
1 large pinch Aleppo pepper or a small pinch cayenne
1/2 teas saffron threads
juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste

Place the yogurt into a small bowl and add salt, pepper, Aleppo or cayenne pepper, and the shallot. Stir. 
Crush the saffron with your fingers and stir it into the yogurt. Set aside while cooking your fish, or about 20 minutes. It can sit in the fridge for up to 2 hours. Add the lemon juice just before serving; stir and taste and add seasoning if you need to.

Hot Chicken Salad

I recently sorted through my old recipe card files as well as my mother's and was reminded of dishes that once were served regularly at my table. But as kids grew up and my interests changed some dishes faded from my memory. It was a reminder of how time pressures and the tastes of a larger group directed my cooking in the past. Here is one vintage dish that was a favorite for a while; I believe it was the potato chip topping that tasted best to kids. It's quick and easy and a one dish meal if you figure celery counts as your vegetable. 



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Hot Chicken Salad


This was served to me at a church ladies' luncheon and probably originated with Martha Johnson, my good friend and mentor.
Makes a 9X13 pan

4 c cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
4 c chopped celery
1 3/4 -2 c mayonnaise (I prefer the lower amount)
1 c sliced almonds (or slivered if that is what you have)
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
4 teas grated onion
1 c grated cheddar cheese
2 cups crushed potato chips

Preheat your oven to 400F. Combine the chicken, celery, mayonnaise, almonds, lemon juice, and onion and place in a buttered  9X13 pan. Top with cheese and then with potato chips.

Bake for 15 minutes until heated through. The celery will be quite crisp-tender. If you prefer the celery to be softer, cook a bit longer.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Roasted Leeks and Cauliflower

 A yummy cauliflower variation.



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Roasted Leeks and Cauliflower


Adapted from: The Washington Post
Serves: 4

2 medium leeks, (white parts only), trimmed
1 medium head cauliflower (about 1 pd)
1 teas brown mustard seed
1 teas caraway seed
1/2 teas salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

Heat the oven to 425F.

Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and place under running water to rinse thoroughly so all dirt is removed. Cut into quarter inch slices. Spread on a kitchen towel to allow to dry as much as possible while you prepare the cauliflower.

Core the cauliflower and cut into bite-size florets. Spread over a rimmed sheet pan. Add the leeks as well.

Place the mustard and caraway seeds with the salt and a pinch of black pepper in a mortar and pestle. and coarsely crush them. Sprinkle mix over the vegetables and drizzle with the olive oil. Mix well to coat the vegetables. Place in the oven.

Roast until the cauliflower is slightly charred and the leeks have browned about 20 minutes. Halfway through, remove the pan from the oven, turn the vegetables over with a spatula and return to the oven reversing the pan's position.

If desired, season with more salt and pepper and drizzle with more olive oil.

Notes: 

If you don't have leeks, this can be cooked with diced onions (large) but it isn't quite as good nor is there any contrasting color. If onion is what you have, top with chopped chives when you serve it.

If you have a larger head of cauliflower, increase the amounts of oil, seeds, and seasonings.

If you can't bring yourself to heat your oven in the summer, you can use these seasonings on cauliflower that has been pan fried, steamed, or boiled. The texture of the vegetable changes, but the seasonings work well whichever way you cook it. 

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Spiced Black Lentil Salad with Potatoes and Fish

Main dish salads are wonderful any time but, for me, summer is the best time to eat them.




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Spiced Black Lentil Salad with Potatoes and Fish


Source: Alison Roman's book Dining In.
Serves about 6

The original recipe calls for good canned tuna which is how I usually make it. Once, though, I had some smoked trout in the freezer and used that. This salad is delicious either way. If you don't have all the ingredients you can leave some out or substitute with what you have in the fridge. I used red bell pepper instead of radishes.


 Begin with the lentils (these can be used as a side dish or in other recipes):

1 c black beluga lentils (or Le Puy or French green lentils), picked over and rinsed
salt
1/2 c olive oil
2 teas coriander seed, crushed
1 1/2 teas fennel seed, crushed
1 teas cumin seed, crushed
1/2 teas crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lemon
6 small scallions, cut into 2" pieces
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to boil in a large saucepan and add lentils and a couple teaspoons of salt. Cook until the lentils are just cooked through 20-30 minutes. Drain them and set aside on the counter.

In a smaller pot, combine the oil with the spices and the garlic over your stove's lowest heat. Cook the spices and garlic in the oil until it is fragrant and the garlic has started to brown, approximately 15 minutes. Peel the lemon skin with a peeler in strips and add them to the pot along with the scallions and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Remove it from the heat.

Place the lentils into a bowl and toss with 1/4 c of the oil, strained if you think you won't like the texture of the seeds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Take the skinned lemon and squeeze half of it through a strainer into the lentils and stir to combine everything. Serve with the remaining oil to pass. Or use these lentils in the following recipe:

For the salad:

2 boiled and peeled eggs (or more if you prefer), halved
1/4 pd fresh green beans (I used home-frozen)
salt
1/4 pd small potatoes (purple are particularly pretty, but any boiling potato will do)
1 T lemon juice
freshly ground pepper
lentils and oil from above recipe
6-8 oz good oil-packed tuna or smoked trout, broken into chunks 
4 radishes
1/2 c dill, cilantro, tarragon, and/or parsley, tender stems and leaves (any combination)
lemon halves

Blanch the green beans for a few minutes in a pot of boiling water, cooking for 4 minutes. Scoop out of the water and drain and place in a large bowl.

In the same water cook the potatoes until tender, 10-15 minutes add water if necessary. You can also steam the potatoes if you prefer. When they are tender, remove from the water, allow to cool and cut into bite size pieces (again your preference) and place in the bowl with the beans.

Add the lentils to the bowl. Add the herb leaves and stir. Top with the fish, radishes and egg halves. Serve, passing lemon halves and any remaining spiced oil.

Monday, May 16, 2022

High Altitude Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

My local grocery store has had a long run of cheap flats of berries this spring (see http://www.piecrustcookies.com/2022/04/lemon-ricotta-pancakes.html). Recently I bought raspberries, thinking my boys would help me eat them, but instead I had to come up with ways to use them because I couldn't eat a whole flat by myself before mold began growing. This recipe was so delicious that they disappeared within a day and I had to make a second batch. A double batch of the chocolate raspberry oatmeal here http://www.piecrustcookies.com/2015/12/baked-oatmeal-three-stick-to-your-ribs.html was devoured within days as well! 

This recipe comes from Dough Eyed, a baker in Colorado, and will work at elevations for 4,000-6,000 feet. I can't vouch for what will happen at sea level. 


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High Altitude Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

Source: https://www.dougheyed.com/chocolate-raspberry-muffins/
Yields 12 or a few more muffins, depending on how full you fill the tins

2 c flour
1 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c unsalted butter, melted
2 T vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/4 c sour cream
1 1/2 teas vanilla
1/2 c buttermilk
1 c mini chocolate chips
1 pint fresh raspberries, washed and dried gently

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Whisk together the melted butter, oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and fold together gently, until there are a couple of flour pockets remaining. Stir in the chocolate chips and raspberries until just barely combined. Cover, then let the batter rest for 20 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375F and prepare the muffin tin by lining with paper liners. (I didn't, and wish I had. the berries stuck to the pan, even though it was greased generously.) After resting, fill the tin generously with muffin batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. If you can stand it, let the muffins cool a bit, then enjoy! 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Chocolate Chip Coffee Scones

I discovered this recipe in a Cuisinart food processor manual which is ironic since cook's aren't instructed to use a food processor at all. Instead bakers are told to cut the butter in small pieces and use a stand mixer to mix it into the flour. When Betsy and I first baked these while at an Airbnb in Tennessee we had neither a food processor or a mixer so grating the cold butter was our only option. I find I prefer this method of incorporating butter into the flour so I'm modifying the instructions. 





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Chocolate Chip Coffee Scones

Adapted from Cuisinart Instructional Manual
Yields 8 scones

Ingredients for sea level follow. I found the recipe worked at my altitude (5000 feet). 

2 c AP flour
1/2 c sugar
1 teas baking powder
1/4 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
2 T  fine finely ground coffee, optional
1/2-1 c chocolate chips (I used dark chips, but you can use semi-sweet or milk)
1 c roasted chopped pecans 
8 T unsalted butter, cold (frozen or straight from the fridge) grated on a cheese grater
1/2 c sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1 large egg
1 T vanilla extract
1 egg white 

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, coffee grounds, chocolate chips and pecans in a bowl. 

Stir in the grated butter and lightly mix it into the dry ingredients.

In a liquid measuring cup mix the sour cream, 1 egg and vanilla together. Stir this into the flour mixture with a fork, stirring until a ball forms.

Drop the dough onto a floured counter and form into a 3/4 inch thick 7-8 inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges and place on prepared baking sheet.

Whisk the egg white until loosened and brush some on the top of each scone. Then sprinkle with sugar or turbinado sugar. 

Place into the oven and bake 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. Place on a rack and allow to cool. You can eat them after a 5 minute cool-down or allow to completely cool and drizzle ganache over the tops. You may simply melt chocolate chips for a thick smear of chocolate but if you want something thinner, heat 2-3 tablespoons of half and half cream in a microwave and stir in an equal amount of chocolate chips. Allow them to sit in the hot cream until they melt. Drizzle over the top of each scone.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Beet and Carrot Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

 A truly beautiful salad. 


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Beet and Carrot Salad with Orange Vinaigrette


Serves: 6-8

This salad stores well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. However, I added the herbs, pistachios, and feta just before serving. 


1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 T white wine vinegar
1 T maple syrup
1 teas table salt (or to taste)
1/2 teas freshly ground pepper
1 teas grated orange zest plus 2 T juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teas ground coriander
8 oz raw beets, trimmed and peeled
1 pd carrots, peeled
4 oz  (1 c) goat cheese, crumbled or feta, divided
1/2 c salted, shelled pistachios, chopped, divided (I used roasted, unsalted pistachios)
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 c fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

Place the olive oil, shallot, vinegar, maple syrup, salt, pepper, orange zest and orange juice, garlic, and ground coriander in a small jar and shake vigorously to emulsify. Set aside and shake again before adding to salad.

Shred the beets and carrots. This is easiest if you use a food processor but can be accomplished with a box grater. Place beets and carrots in a bowl and mix until combined. Pour over the amount of dressing you prefer. The original recipe uses the entire amount. I used about 3/4 of what I had and saved the rest for a green salad later. Mix well and allow to sit for 30 minutes. 

Top with the cheese, pistachios, cilantro, and mint, either over the entire salad over individual servings, especially if you are planning to refrigerate leftovers. 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

What is it about ricotta that makes everything taste magical? I generally don't like pancakes but these are light, bright, and tender. Also, it's spring and my grocery store has had cheap flats of strawberries. I pureed some and added a bit of sugar for a thick fruit syrup, which was a perfect complement to the lemon. I think these will be my Easter breakfast tomorrow. 


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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Source: New York Times Cooking https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1022931-lemon-ricotta-pancakes

The amounts are doubled from the original, because I'm cooking for a crowd every day.

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3 teas baking powder
1 1/2 teas fine salt
1/2 c sugar
2 lemons
3 teas vanilla extract
6 large eggs
1 1/2 c ricotta (whole-milk is preferable)
1/2 c buttermilk
2 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking and serving

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Place the sugar in a large bowl. Use a microplane to grate the lemon zest right into the sugar. Gently rub the zest and sugar together using your fingers. Using your fingers, gently rub the zest into the sugar. Then add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and whisk until foamy. Add the ricotta, buttermilk, and butter, then whisk until blended. Mix in the dry ingredients and stir lightly until the flour is incorporated. 

Melt some butter in a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Cook pancake batter until the tops are bubbling, then flip to finish the other side. I had some trouble with the pancakes being undercooked in the middle, but I used more batter than the recommended 1/4 c so make sure you cook bigger pancakes longer. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Cast-Iron Skillet Brownies

Made with melted whole marshmallows and baked in a skillet, these brownies have a chewy edge and a fudgy point. When baked in a muffin tin, there's lots of chewiness for those on a chewy brownie quest.


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Cast-Iron Skillet Brownies


Yield depends on how wide you cut the wedges. I cut 14. Baking in muffin tins yielded 21.

Adjustments for altitudes of 4,000-6,000 ft:

Subtract 2 1/2 T sugar
Add 2 T flour


2 oz. marshamllows (about 8 large marshmallows)
1/2 c plus 2 T warm tap water
4 T unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 c Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 3/4 c AP flour
1 teas table salt
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (You may substitute bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips but they won't melt as much inside the brownie.)

Place your oven rack in the lowest position and preheat the oven to 350F. Use butter or baking spray to grease a 12-inch cast-iron skillet.

In a large bowl, combine marshmallows, warm tap water, butter, unsweetened chocolate, and cocoa. Place in the microwave and  run at 50 percent power until chocolate is smooth and fully melted. Stop microwave and stir occasionally. Let sit on counter and cool for 5 minutes.

Mix in sugar, oil, eggs and yolks, and vanilla with a whisk until completely combined. Gently stir in the flour and salt until just incorporated. Stir in the bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips.

Use a rubber spatula to place the batter into the prepared skillet. Smooth the top and place into the oven and bake for 33-38 minutes until a toothpick test into the center of the brownie comes out with just a few moist crumbs and a little batter. Try not to overbake since the skillet will be so hot after removal that the brownie will continue to cook. Rotate the skillet approximately halfway through baking. Place the skillet on a wire rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. You may want to place a kitchen towel or a hot pad over the handle so someone doesn't accidently grab it while the skillet is still hot.

Let cool for 30 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream while the brownies are still warm. Or allow to cool completely for more precise wedges. These brownies are very tasty on their own.

If you prefer round brownies (and I do) grease the cups of two muffin tins and fill the cups about 2/3c full. These will cook faster, so start checking at about 25 minutes and remove when the toothpick test shows just a few crumbs. 

I found the brownies seemed to soften up during storage. Freezing and using them as needed helps with this, if you see it as a problem. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Kale, Clementine and Hazelnut Salad

Technically a quick and easy winter salad, this recipe will work year round using any citrus that's available.



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Kale, Clementine, and Hazelnut Salad

Source: The Washington Post who adapted it from The Asheville Bee Charmer Cookbook
Serves 6


Salad:

1 pound curly kale, stemmed, washed and dried (you may sub other types of kale)
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1T fresh lemon juice
1 teas kosher salt
4 clementines or mandarins, peeled and segmented
1 c hazelnuts (walnuts would work, too)

Dressing:

3 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T honey, can be reduced (orange blossom honey is recommended but any will be fine)

Tear the kale leaves into bite-size pieces and drop into a large bowl. Add the oil, lemon juice and salt and massage, gently, into the kale for a couple of minutes. It will look like you've got half as much as you started with. Add the fruit and the nuts and toss.

Mix the dressing with a whisk or shake in a small mason jar until emulsified. Drizzle the dressing over all and toss to coat completely. I had a bit of dressing left over because I prefer a lighter coating.

Note:

If you can't find clementines or mandarins, use oranges cut into chunks.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Chocolate Revel Bars

Chocolate, oatmeal, and almonds make a yummy bar cookie. 





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Chocolate Revel Bars


Makes a 9X13 pan

3 c old-fashioned rolled oats 
2 c AP flour
1 1/2 c packed brown sugar, light or dark
1 c raw unsalted almonds, chopped
1 teas baking soda
salt
16 T unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 T unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teas vanilla
2 c (12 oz.) bittersweet chocolate chips
1 c sweetened condensed milk

Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9X13 pan with aluminum foil using enough foil that you can use it as handles when you remove the bars from the pan. Grease the foil once it is in place.

In a large bowl, place the oats, flour, sugar, almonds, baking soda, and 1 teas of salt. Stir to combine. In a second bowl, or a large glass measuring cup, mix the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla together. Pour the butter mixture into the flour/oatmeal mixture and stir until a dough forms. I found it easiest to use my hands to complete this step. Remove 1 1/2 cups of this dough for the topping and set aside in the bowl or measuring cup you used to melt the butter. Drop the remaining dough into the prepared pan and press to cover the bottom evenly. 

Place the chocolate chips, condensed milk, 1/2 teas salt, and remaining 2 T butter into a glass bowl and microwave at 50 % power until the chocolate chips are melted. Stir occasionally to ensure the mixture is fully combined. It took about 2 and a half minutes in my microwave. The chocolate will continue melting as you stir, so take it out of the microwave before all the chips melt away. This will look like fudge or thick chocolate frosting.

Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the oatmeal crust. Using your hand, crumble the reserved oatmeal dough over the chocolate layer. Place in the oven and bake until the topping is golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool until the bars are set, about 6 hours. Use the foil overhangs to carefully lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into bars  the size you prefer and serve.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Grandma Betty's Popcorn Crisp

 This was one of my mom's favorite treat and she made it frequently. After her death my dad continued making it and often gave it as his Christmas gift to neighbors. 




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Grandma Betty's Popcorn Crisp


Source: Betty Peterson who got it from her friend Glenneth Wilson

These temperatures are for sea level but I imagine my mother adjusted for altitudes in her various homes. For every 1,000 feet feet above sea level, reduce your target temperature by 2 degrees Fahrenheit.


1/2 pd. popcorn
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c plus 1 T white Karo syrup
3/4 c water
1 c raw Spanish peanuts
1 t salt
1 t  baking soda
1 t vanilla
1 cube (1/2 c) melted butter, kept warm


Pop the corn and place it in a large kettle or roasting pan in a warm oven (275F) so both the popcorn and the pot will be warm when the syrup is ready. 

Mix the sugar, corn syrup and water and cook to 231F and add peanuts. Cook to 281 degrees and add salt. Cook to 291 degrees and the syrup is golden brown. Remove from the heat and add the butter, soda and vanilla stirring well. 

Moving quickly, but carefully, pull the kettle of popcorn out of the oven and scrape all of the hot syrup into the corn and stir well until all the popcorn is lightly coated. Pour out onto 2 baking sheets and spread out to cool. 

Alternatively, this may be made into popcorn balls but you'll need to butter your hands, and work fast. You may consider wearing gloves. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

Kale Salad with Smoked Almonds




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Kale Salad with Smoked Almonds


Adapted from Milk Street Magazine
Serves 6

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
5 T sherry vinegar
kosher salt
2 T honey
8 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
ground black pepper
1 c smoked almonds
4 oz. chewy white or wheat bread, cut into 1-in cubes
2 teas fresh thyme leaves
1 T sweet paprika
2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed, washed, spun dry and thinly sliced crosswise (10 c)
1 c fresh mint leaves, chopped

In a pint mason jar or a small bowl place the sliced shallots, vinegar and 1/2 teas salt. Let rest for 10 minutes. Add the honey, 5 T of the olive oil. Shake it in the jar or whisk all ingredients in a bowl.

Chop the almonds in a food processor until coarse, about 8 pulses and move to a large bowl.

Place the bread cubes in the processor bowl and run about 20 seconds until they are in coarse crumbs. Add the thyme, the remaining 3 T oil, paprika, half teaspoon salt and half teaspoon pepper. Process about 10 seconds until all is incorporated. Pour the crumb mixture into a large skillet over medium heat and cook until browned and crisped, stirring often. Place on a plate or quarter sheet pan to cool.

Put the kale and mint into the bowl with the almonds and massage the greens. It will take about 10-20 seconds to get it to a softer, darker texture. Pour the dressing and crumbs over and toss to combine. Taste and season if necessary.

Note:   Smoked almonds are usually quite salty. Next time I'm going to use plain roasted almonds and substitute Spanish smoked paprika, to achieve a smoky flavor with less salt. I'll report how that works.



Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Slow-Cooker Roasted Beets




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Slow-Cooker Roasted Beets


Adapted from The French Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone 
 

I have loved cooking beets in a slow-cooker since I first stumbled on the idea. Beets seem to take so long in a hot oven and although a slow-cooker takes longer, I appreciate how it doesn't heat up my kitchen. I've roasted as few as 3 (thanks to a grocery delivery) and as many as 8 at a time. I think more can be cooked, especially if you have a big appliance.

When trimming them, leave about an inch of  roots and the tops attached so that they retain their juices. 


Olive oil for the insert
6-8 medium to large beets (about 2 pounds), scrubbed and trimmed

Use your hands or a pastry brush to coat the insert of your slow-cooker with olive oil. 

Place the beets into the insert and replace the lid. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or until the beets are tender. Text with a sharp knife tip.

Turn off the slow cooker and remove the beets. Let rest until you can handle them, about 5 minutes. I use a paper towel to rub the skins off. The beets are ready to be sliced or cubed and served with a vinaigrette or in salads or in any way you prefer.

Variation: Put an equal amount of medium or small onions in with the beets. If quite small they can remain whole but half or quarter larger onions. 

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Roasted Winter Squash with Browned Butter

This is a rich and filling treatment for a vegetable; but yummy.


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Roasted Winter Squash with Browned Butter

Source: NYTimes Cooking
Serves 4-6


1  butternut squash, 3-4 pd
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper
3 T unsalted butter
1 teas apple cider vinegar, plus more, if needed
1/4 teas red-pepper flakes, more or less
1/2 c fresh min leaves, optional
or 1/4-1/3 c pine nuts
flaky salt, optional

Place a rack at the bottom of the oven and heat to 425F. You may want to put a pizza stone on the rack, if you own one. This will help brown the squash.

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Peeling is optional (keeping the peel on keeps the squash from falling apart). Cut crosswise into 3/4 inch thick slices.

Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Spread and toss to distribute evenly and then sprinkle salt and pepper over all. Ensure the squash is in an even layer and place in the oven on the low rack. Cook until browned 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. Flip and roast for another 5-10 minutes until browned on both sides and tender.

While the squash is cooking, make the brown butter by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally until the foam subsides and the milk solids turn golden brown. It will smell nutty and delicious. Remove from heat and add the vinegar and red-pepper flakes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. If you are roasting your squash in a range oven, you can keep this from hardening by setting it on the stovetop. If you've got a wall oven, make the sauce later in the roasting procedure. 

Cut a little squash off and dip into the butter mixture. You can adjust the vinegar (I added more), the salt and both peppers if needed. If it tastes good to you, spoon the sauce over the squash and top with mint leaves.

If you use pine nuts, as I did, let them brown in the browning butter.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Braised Zucchini with Cherry Tomatoes

This quick recipe may not be truly seasonal at the moment but we can almost always find zucchini and cherry tomatoes in the supermarket. Of course, in few months, it will be seasonal.



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Braised Zucchini with Cherry Tomatoes


Serves 4

4 zucchini (8 oz each), scrubbed,  quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c water
2 springs fresh basil or substitute 1/2 teas dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/2-1 teas salt 
1/4 teas freshly ground black pepper pepper
1/4 teas red pepper flakes
3 oz (1/2 c) cherry tomatoes, halved (if you use grape tomatoes, you may leave them whole)
lemon wedges to serve

It's recommended you don't use zucchini larger than 8 ounces because they can be overly seedy, more watery and less flavorful. If you grow your own and have just picked them from the garden you may find them to be just fine in spite of their size. 

Place the zucchini, oil, water, basil sprigs, garlic, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes to boil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and cover. Simmer. Use a rubber spatula to stir the mixture every 3 minutes or so (the rubber spatula will be more gentle with the zucchini which tends to break apart). When the zucchini is fork tender (approximately 8-10 minutes) add the tomatoes and cook, uncovered for a couple of minutes until they have softened. Remove the basil sprigs and serve, passing lemon wedges. You can drizzle the finished dish with lemon juice if you prefer. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Farmhouse Chicken Chowder

Michael recently traveled to Idaho for steelhead fishing. When he's away, the kids know to expect lots of pasta and other high carb dishes. We discovered this soup last year during one of his trips, and it has become a staple of the "when Daddy is away" menu. 

The silky mouthfeel of this creamy soup is a main selling point for me, and the bacon and onion garnishes are a tasty addition. 



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Farmhouse Chicken Chowder

Adapted slightly from Cook's Country: https://www.cookscountry.com/recipes/6436-farmhouse-chicken-chowder

6 slices bacon, chopped
6 scallions, white parts chopped fine and green parts sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 celery rib, sliced thin
Salt and pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
~3 c rotisserie chicken, cut or shredded into bite-size pieces 
1 cup half-and-half (or 1/2 c cream and 1/2 c milk)
3/4 c frozen corn

Cook the bacon in a dutch oven until crisp. Remove the bacon and put on a plate lined with paper towels. Spoon out all but 1 T bacon fat. Add the scallion whites, carrots, celery, and 1/2 teas salt and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the flour and stir frequently for a minute or two, until the flour is golden. 

Add broth and potatoes, then bring to a boil. Simmer on medium-low under vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes. Add chicken, half-and-half, and corn and cook for a couple of minutes until the chicken and corn is heated. Season with salt and pepper, then garnish with scallion greens and bacon at the table. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Roasted Chicken with Peaches, Basil, and Ginger

I'm always too busy cooking during peach season to post recipes so here's one to help me remember bright summer meals as I wait for the end of winter. 

Use crusty bread to soak up the delicious juice. 



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Chicken with Peaches, Basil, and Ginger


Source: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1012681-roasted-chicken-thighs-with-peaches-basil-and-ginger

This is about what I make for my family of 6, though the amounts are flexible. 

1 1/2 lbs peaches (firmer fruit is easier to cut but softer peaches will taste just as good)
3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 T extra virgin olive oil
6 T dry sherry or dry vermouth
6 T chopped basil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 3-inch piece ginger root, peeled and grated
1 1/2 teas salt
1 1/2 teas pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Halve the peaches and cut them into 1/2 inch slices. 

Toss together all ingredients except for half of the basil on a sheet pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the meat is cooked completely. Sprinkle with the remaining basil. 

Quick Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Bacon

Michael makes fun of me for eating soups primarily during cool weather and salads in the summer, but I stand by my seasonal eating habits. There's nothing quite like warming up from the inside out. Though this weekend will feel like spring, it's still winter for a couple of months, and this recipe is a quick option for butternut squash soup. 

I love that the technique in this recipe does not require cubing the squash, which takes forever. And, though you might not think bacon goes with allspice, the soup's flavors are delicious. I will sometimes garnish my bowl with toasted walnuts and chives, in addition to the bacon. This is lovely in a bread bowl!



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Quick Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Bacon


Source: How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman

8 slices bacon
1 medium butternut squash (1 1/2 pounds)
2 large apples
1 small onion
1 teas allspice
1/4 teas cayenne (1/16 teas for Betsy)
salt and pepper
5 c chicken stock
1 c cream

Prepare the squash: peel it, scoop out and discard the seeds, and cut into pieces that will fit well in a food processor. Bittman's instructions for peeling work well: "Cut the squash in half around the equator, stabilize the flat side on a cutting board, and work downward with a chef's or paring knife to slice the skin from the flesh, turning the piece as you work, then trim off the ends."

Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and begin cooking it in a large pot over medium heat. When the bacon is done to your desired crispiness, remove it from the pot and place it on a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the rendered fat in the pot.

While the bacon is cooking, peel, quarter, and core the apples. Then trim, peel, and quarter the onion. Shred the squash, apples, and onion in a food processor using a grating disk.

After the bacon is removed, add the shredded vegetables to the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the allspice and cayenne, along with a sprinkle of both salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about minute, until the spices are fragrant.

Add the stock and cream. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so the soup simmers. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the squash is tender. Turn the heat off and use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

Adjust the seasoning, if necessary, and then serve, garnishing with bacon.






Sunday, January 30, 2022

Brookies

Recently both Betsy and I cooked this cookie-brownie combo and it's not surprising that we both liked them. Plenty of chocolate!




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Brookies


Adapted from NYTimes Cooking
Yields a 9X13 pan

Altitude adjustments for around 5000 ft above sea level:

Add 1 tablespoon flour for each cup of flour (I added half a tablespoon in the brownies and one tablespoon in the cookie dough) 
Subtract 1 tablespoon for each cup of either sugar


For the brownie batter:

8 T of unsalted butter, not including what you use to grease the pan
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teas vanilla extract
1/2 c AP flour
3/4 c cocoa powder, Dutch-process or natural
1/4 teas kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)


For the cookie dough:

6 T unsalted butter
1 c packed brown sugar, light or dark (but dark makes a prettier Brookie, I think)
2 large eggs
2 teas vanilla extract
1 1/4 AP flour
2 teas baking powder
3/4 teas kosher salt
1 1/4 c chocolate chips or chopped bar chocolate
3/4 c chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

NYTimes Cooking suggests that this recipe saves on dishes because you mix each batter in the same saucepan but they have you put the brownie batter in a bowl, wash the saucepan out by hand and then mix the cookie dough. This is certainly fine but not a true labor-saver. I, however, used a different saucepan for each batter. I believe I could streamline this next time by mixing the cookie dough first, placing it in the prepared baking pan while making the brownie batter in the same (well scraped) saucepan without washing it (the little bit of lighter dough wouldn't be a problem). This would mean the brownie portion would be more "on top" and would change the appearance of your final product but not the taste. These instructions reflect that choice. If you prefer, just use two saucepans.

Prepare the baking pan by greasing it and lining it with a generous sheet of parchment paper. It will be helpful when removing to have some excess on the ends or sides so you can use the paper as handles.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Make the cookie batter first. Put the butter and sugar into the saucepan and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. Lift the pan from the heat and vigorously whisk until the butter and sugar and completely combined. Let sit a few minutes to cool somewhat. You can chop nuts, or measure chocolate chips.

Once somewhat cooler, beat in the eggs by hand one at a time and add the vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate and add the nuts. 

Using a spring-type ice cream scoop, place this dough in clumps in the bottom of the prepared pan. Use a rubber spatula to scrape out the dough as well as you can.  Set aside while you make the brownie batter.

Combine the butter and sugar in the saucepan and heat until the butter has melted. Off heat, vigorously whisk until combined and let rest and cool a bit.

Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla.

Stir in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, ensuring no streaks of flour remain.

Using the ice cream scoop, place this batter amongst or on top of the cookie dough clumps. Use a small offset spatula to spread into an even layer, marbleizing as you spread. Sprinkle the dough with the remaining half cup of chocolate chips.

Place in oven and bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Set on a rack and cool completely before attempting to remove from the pan. Cut into bars and serve. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Bacon Jam

After discovering bacon jam at a charcuterie café a couple of years ago, I was compelled to make it for myself. Having this recipe has been especially convenient during the last couple of  years. 


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Bacon Jam

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

1 pd regular bacon (not thick-cut), cut crosswise into half-inch wide strips
1 c thinly sliced onion
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
4 c water
1/3 c cider vinegar, although any variety can be used
1/3 c maple syrup
1/8 cayenne pepper, more or less

In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until it is crispy, 15-20 minutes. Remove the bacon and place on a paper towel plate or quarter sheet pan. (I just used a bowl without a paper towel.) Remove most of the fat from the skillet, keeping only a couple of tablespoons for further cooking.

Add the onions, thyme, and garlic to the bacon fat and keep cooking over medium heat until the onion is browned and softened, 5-10 minutes. Add the water, vinegar, syrup and cayenne and stir. Then stir in the reserved bacon and increase the heat to medium high. Stirring occasionally, cook until nearly all the liquid has evaporated. In about 22-30 minutes the mixture will start to noticeably sizzle. 

Take the skillet from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Use a rubber spatula to transfer the mixture from the skillet to a food processor and pulse 15-20 times until the bacon and onions are finely chopped. Serve warm. 

ATK states that this can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days and reheated carefully in the microwave for a minute. If you want to store it longer, freeze it.

One of my favorite sandwiches is bacon jam on flat bread with arugula and burrata cheese. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Spaghetti Ice

When our family lived in Europe, we were introduced to Spaghetti Ice, an ice cream dessert which, at the time, was served mainly in German Eis Cafés. It's a relatively simple concoction as far as ingredients go but making them at home requires a less-common gadget--a potato ricer (or a spaetzle press). In the Eis cafe's we visited in Germany, they had electric presses that extruded vanilla ice cream in thin, long spaghetti shapes. (I suppose, but don't know, that an electric pasta maker might work.) Strawberry sauce is the stand in for spaghetti sauce, and grated white chocolate looks like Parmesan. If you happen to have a ball shaped chocolate candy, you can include a "meatball". We often use Ferraro Rocher Hazelnut Chocolates, but current supply chain issues keep us reluctantly flexible.


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Spaghetti Ice


Source: German Eis Cafés 


These instructions are for roughly 4 people, depending on appetites and ages. See this as a guide, not a true recipe.

1-1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream, whipped with some vanilla and a T of granulated sugar 
1 generous pint of strawberries, cleaned and trimmed if fresh, or thawed if frozen
1-2 T sugar
1 bar of white chocolate (preferably real chocolate, rather than imitation, if you can find it
vanilla ice cream, softened a few minutes at room temperature if your freezer runs very cold

Keep the whipped cream in the fridge to keep it as cool as possible.

You may want to place your bowls in the freezer or refrigerator before prep so the ice cream doesn't melt as fast. 

Place strawberries and sugar in a blender or food processor and run until smooth. Don't worry too much about getting it completely smooth since real spaghetti sauce can be chunky. Taste this to be sure it's sweet enough for you and add more sugar, if you'd like.

Grate the white chocolate on a microplane if you have one. Or grate the chocolate on the small wholes of a grater.

We prepare and serve these immediately to each individual, meaning the cook with the job of pressing the ice cream eats later. You could prep them and place bowls back in the freezer and serve all at the same time if that's important.

Place a big spoonful of whipped cream in the bottom of the bowl. Push a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream through a potato ricer over the whipped cream and allow to mound up like a pile of spaghetti. This often ends up being a two-person job with the stronger person managing the pressing and a helper using a butter knife to cut the strands of ice cream off the bottom of the ricer.

Quickly top with some of the strawberry sauce and a spoonful of the grated white chocolate.  Place a chocolate "meatball" or two on the side and serve.




Friday, January 7, 2022

Sheet Pan Chocolate Chip Pancake

 Here's a way to cook multiple pancakes all at once.



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Sheet Pan Chocolate Chip Pancake 


Adapted from:  New York Times Cooking
Serves 6-10

This can be halved for a smaller crowd. I also like to cook this on two quarter-sheet pans so one can stay warm in the oven if needed. It also helps me deal with the effects of my high altitude.

2-3 T unsalted butter, softened, plus 8 T  cut into half-inch cubes and chilled
1 1/2 c cold buttermilk
1 1/2 c cold milk 
3 c AP flour (I used half whole wheat)
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
1 teas baking soda
3/4 teas salt
3/4 c mini chocolate chips   


Preheat your oven to 450F. Prepare a sheet pan or two quarter-sheet pans by greasing with one tablespoon of the softened butter and lining with parchment paper. Alternatively, so you don't waste a bunch of butter under the paper, spray with cooking spray and then line the pan with parchment paper.

In a large liquid measuring cup, measure the buttermilk and milk and set aside.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and the salt in a food processor. Drop the cubed butter in and process together until the mixture is coarsely sandy with some pieces the size of small peas. Place in a bowl and pour the milk mixture over . Use a whisk to combine and set aside for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the sheet pan into the oven to heat up.

Pull the hot pan from the oven and place 2 T of the softened butter on it. Return to the oven and allow the butter to melt. This won't take long if the pan is quite hot. Once more, pull the pan from the oven and spread the butter all over. You might be able to do this by tipping the pan but I found it easier to use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter everywhere. Carefully pour the batter into the pan; spread out to corners and sprinkle the chocolate chips over all. Set the pan back in the oven and allow to bake for 13-15 minutes until completely a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Place under the broiler for a minute to brown the top. 

Cut into squares or rectangles and serve with maple syrup, if desired. 

Notes:

I like the idea of cooking a number of pancakes at once but this recipe pays cooks back with more dishes than I like (and in the past I had to wash my food processor by hand). So I advise keeping the cold butter whole until you want to mix it into the dry ingredients; then grate in the butter (a flat grater easily fits into the dishwasher) and stir. If you feel you need to, blend the butter in a bit more with your fingertips. Also, if you have a very large liquid measuring vessel you can use that to hold the milks and then add the flour/butter mix. Just be sure this vessel is correct. I inherited a big glass measuring bowl but have found out the hard way that it measures incorrectly.

Other readers of the NY Times suggested topping with nuts and/or berries or other fruit, chopped. Blueberries sounded really nice. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Shortbread Brownies

This luscious brownie is my current favorite. 


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Shortbread Brownies 


Source: New York Times Cooking 
Yield: one 9X13 pan

 
4,000-5,000 ft elevation tweaks:
No adjustments for the shortbread layer.

For the brownie layer, subtract 2 T sugar and add 1 T flour.


For the shortbread:

1 1/2 c cold unsalted butter (3 sticks) cut into half-inch pieces
3 c AP flour
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 teas fine sea salt or table salt

For the brownie:

1 c plus 2 T unsalted butter (2 1/4 sticks)
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 c light brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 c plus 1 T cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 T vanilla
1 1/2 c AP flour
1/4 teas fine sea salt or table salt
3/4 c chopped walnuts or pecans, or slivered almonds, toasted
flaky sea salt, optional

Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly oil a 9X13 baking pan and line with some parchment paper, ensuring some overhang on the two long sides.

In a stand mixer's bowl, place the flour, sugar, and salt and mix to combine. Add the butter cubes and with the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated and come together. It's all right if it is still a little crumbly. You may also pulse the ingredients together in a food processor if you prefer.

Drop the dough into the prepared pan, pressing with your hands until it is in all the corners and is spread evenly. Use a fork to prick the dough all over. Place in the oven and bake until it is golden, about 30-35 minutes.

As the shortbread bakes, begin prepping the brownies. Melt the chocolate and butter together. The easiest way is to place them in a large glass bowl in a microwave and heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring afterwards. In my microwave it took bout 4 30-second periods. Another option is to place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and the chocolate and butter to melt, while stirring occasionally.

When the chocolate and butter are melted, stir in the sugars and the cocoa until smooth. Then add the eggs and vanilla and stir well.

Mix the flour and salt together in a medium bowl. Stir into the chocolate mixture until there are no streaks of flour. If you chose to use the nuts, fold them in at this point. Using an offset spatula or a rubber spatula, spread the brownie batter on top of the still warm shortbread. If desired, sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

Place in the oven and bake for 23-28 minutes until the batter is pulling away from the sides but the center is still soft. You'll find if you test with a toothpick, it will come out still gooey. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack until completely cool. Use the overhanging parchment paper to remove the cool brownies from the pan and slice into sizes of your choice. I find these brownies particularly rich (look at all that butter) so I cut them about 2 inches by 3/4-1 inch.

Swiss Chard Salad with Prosciutto and Cheese

 This is an easy salad if you don't mind making your own salad dressing (I think it's worth it).





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Swiss Chard Salad with Prosciutto and Cheese


Source: Cook's Country Magazine
Serves 4-6

12 oz Swiss chard of any color
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
2 T fig preserves
1 small shallot, minced
2 teas whole-grain mustard
1/2 teas table salt
1/2 teas freshly ground pepper
1/2 c fresh basil, sliced just before it gets stirred into the dressing
1/2 c thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces, divided
1/2 c walnuts, coarsely chopped and roasted, divided
1/2 cup of crumbled bleu cheese (2 oz) divided or substitute, as I did, with cheese you have on hand 

Prepare the chard, by removing any stems that are larger than a quarter inch. Stack them on a cutting board and cut in half. Cut the stacks crosswise into thin slices (1/4-inch). 

In large bowl place the olive oil, red wine vinegar, preserves, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk until emulsified. Move the chard to the bowl. 

Thinly slice the basil and place it on top of the chard. Add half of the prosciutto, walnuts, and bleu cheese and toss the salad. Toss the ingredients in the bowl until well mixed. Top the salad in the bowl, or on serving plates, with the remaining prosciutto, walnuts, and cheese and serve.