Thursday, January 30, 2014

Year of the Horse

 The Chinese New Year is often referred to as the "Lunar New Year" since the dates follow a lunisolar calendar. The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. It is a traditional practice to light fireworks, burn bamboo sticks and firecrackers and to make as much of a din as possible to chase off the evil spirits.

Some families may invite a Lion troupe as a symbolic ritual to usher in the Chinese New Year as well as to evict bad spirits from the premises. Members of the family who are married also give red packets containing cash known aslai see or angpow, a form of blessings and to suppress the aging and challenges associated with the coming year, to junior members of the family, mostly children and teenagers. Business managers also give bonuses through red packets to employees for good luck, smooth-sailing, good health and wealth.

Wishing you prosperity and good health and good luck!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Buttermilk and Cherries

We are in that season where much of the fruit available in the markets are imported, except for apples and pears. Pears are often not ripe and I made apple crisp last time this friend was over for dinner, so yesterday I decided to make a dessert with things on hand. I had some buttermilk, eggs, and butter in the fridge and a jar of pitted sweet dark cherries in the pantry.

 A short amount of time on the internet led me to a lovely recipe for a moist, fluffy, tender single layer cake with cherries. Well, the recipe actually used raspberries, but I knew cherries would work well with the cake. I also used almond extract instead of vanilla because almond flavor brings out the cherry flavor so well and these were not fresh fruit, so could use that bit of help. Otherwise I mostly followed the recipe and we enjoyed the cake after dinner. It was not too much, and not too little...just right.

Cherry Buttermilk Cake
based on Raspberry Buttermilk Cake in
Gourmet, June 2009, by Melissa Roberts

Simple, tender buttermilk cake topped with a nice, sugary crunch and enriched with cherries

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup pitted cherries (I used some that had been canned in a jar and drained off the juice used to pack them, but fresh cherries would be even better), drained
1 tablespoon soft butter and 3 tablespoons sugar for the pan
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, preferably sanding sugar, for the topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, with rack in the middle. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan, then coat with the sugar, shaking out any excess into the sink. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom.
Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in the almond extract. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, beat in 1/2 of the flour mixture, the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mixture, beating only until combined each time.

Spoon batter into prepared pan, smoothing top. Scatter the drained cherries evenly over the top. Sprinkle top with the sanding sugar. Bake in preheated oven for 25 - 30 minutes, or until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then run a knife blade around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake and turn it out onto a rack. Invert onto a serving plate and let cool 10 - 15 minutes more. Cherries will have sunk to the bottom of the cake, and the top will be crunchy with sugar.

Serves 8

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Football Viewing Party

Yesterday was a bit strange. I watched two football games, one right after the other. That is not strange behavior for many folks, but it is for me. On occasion I have watched a good amount of a Super Bowl game, but usually I'm also doing something else. It might be because I didn't grow up going to or watching sports, but it could also be because I have trouble sitting through hours of almost anything.

Yesterday was different because we had people over to watch the game. Our daughter was here for both and some good friends were here for the San Francisco 49er vs Seattle Seahawks game.

Since our daughter used to work at the stadium where the game was played and is very familiar with the loud fans, you would think she might be a fan. Not so much. She has been a Californian at heart even when living in Washington State and a 49er fan for a long time.

It was fun. It was exciting for a lot of the game. It was heartbreaking at the end. We had a good time together and ate and drank and cheered and shouted.

At Sweetie's request food was pretty healthy: two kinds of melon and some pineapple, fresh vegetables and hummus, peanuts, olives, little cheese cubes and multigrain crackers. I made up some burritos in the morning and at half time we brought them out and heated them up, adding toppings if desired. One version was sort of Mediterranean.  I used leftover rice, lemon juice, pesto, mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes cut in a small dice, and some leftover roasted chicken for one version. The other version was more traditional Mexican, with rice, kidney beans, salsa, cheddar cheese, avocado, lime juice, and fresh chicken.

For a sweet to end the game our daughter brought two cupcakes from a local cupcake store that we split to share. Red velvet and salted caramel buttercream is a dreamy combination.

Hope you had a fun Sunday, too!

Two Kinds of Burritos

Chicken Pesto Burrito
makes 3
cooked rice, about 1 1/2 cups
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3-4 tablespoons prepared pesto
1/4 cup finely diced fresh tomato
1/2 cup cubed cooked chicken
salt and pepper to taste
3 burrito size tortillas

In a bowl mix together all the ingredients except for the tortillas. For each burrito, mound 1/3 of the mixture in the center of a burrito, then rearrange the mixture into a torpedo shape. Fold in the 'sides', then the 'bottom, then rollover until all the filling is enclosed. Place on a plate with the edge side down and 'sides' facing out. Repeat for the other two burritos. When ready to eat, place a burrito on a microwave safe plate. Microwave on high for about a minute, or until heated throughout. Serve with additional pesto and/or diced tomatoes for garnish.

Chicken Salsa Burrito
makes 3
cooked rice, about 1 1/2 cups
1/3 cup kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or a mixture of jack and cheddar cheeses)
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/3 cup prepared salsa
1/2 ripe avocado, diced
1/2 cup cubed cooked chicken
salt and pepper to taste
3 burrito size tortillas

In a bowl mix together all the ingredients except for the tortillas. For each burrito, mound 1/3 of the mixture in the center of a burrito, then rearrange the mixture into a torpedo shape. Fold in the 'sides', then the 'bottom, then rollover until all the filling is enclosed. Place on a plate with the edge side down and 'sides' facing out. Repeat for the other two burritos. When ready to eat, place a burrito on a microwave safe plate. Microwave on high for about a minute, or until heated throughout. Serve with sour cream, additional salsa and/or diced tomatoes and/or cilantro for garnish. I had some hot sauce and garlic powder available, too, for adding if desired.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chocolate Prune Bread a Babes Delight

Last month the Bread Baking Babes had a cake that was actually a bread (Lardy Cake) and this month we have a bread that has many of the flavors of a cake. If you love chocolate and bread combined, you'll love this loaf. I made mine with chopped pecans in the dough and with chunks of bittersweet chocolate and dried cherries (instead of prunes) kneaded in before shaping. It is full of flavor from the cocoa in the dough, too. I only made half the recipe, which makes one loaf...plenty for two people. In the recipe below the amounts in parentheses and italics are the amounts of ingredients I used for the half recipe.

Although I had expected some rise in the dough when I first set it out to expand, it was pretty inactive for a couple of hours. Then it was bedtime, so I covered the bowl (same one I made it in, unwashed, un-oiled Elizabeth!) and put it into the fridge. The next day I was too busy to deal with it, but the next day, after the dough had warmed up some, it rose just fine. Back into the fridge it went. The next day I kneaded in the cherries and chocolate and shaped it into a loaf shape. Working with fairly cold dough is helpful. I had already buttered the pan and sprinkled it with sanding sugar, so in went the shaped loaf. It rose by about 1/3 in the pan while the oven preheated. After an egg wash and more sanding sugar on top, I slashed the top to allow for oven spring. Glad I did that because the oven spring was awesome! The bottom of the loaf was a little more browned than I would have like...chocolate can burn easily, but overall it was a delicious, decadent bread. Although many flavors were cake like, you could still see the bread texture and still taste the yeast, so not cake...BREAD!

Thank you Jaime, our Kitchen of the Month, blogging at Life's a Feast, for choosing this interesting recipe.

Thank you Elizabeth for lending me your Battle Apron, which I felt I needed when the dough refused to rise the first day. That and some patience seem to be what was needed to be successful with this lovely loaf.

Do try it for yourself! You can be a Buddy by making it, taking a photo or two and sending Jaime an e-mail (please include your name and your blog’s name) by January 26th to jamieannschler AT gmail DOT com with January Bread Baking Buddy in the subject line. Do visit all the Bread Baking Babes to see their bountiful versions, too.  OOPS! Buddy deadline is actually Jan. 29th! Still time....

Karen - Bake My Day 
Elizabeth - Blog from OUR Kitchen 
Heather - Girlichef 
Lien - Notitie van Lien   

Chocolate Prune Bread:
Makes one 1 ½ pound loaf if half recipe used

1 ½ pounds (about 680 g – the size of a small cantaloupe) (full amount if half recipe was made) of the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread dough {SEE BELOW}
Softened unsalted butter for greasing the pan

2 ounces (55 g) high-quality bittersweet chocolate - * use 6 ounces (170 g) if you did not add chocolate chips to the original Chocolate Bread Dough

¾ cup chopped pitted prunes (or dried I used)

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water)
¼ cup (50 g) sugar for sprinkling over the top of the bread and preparing the pan

On baking day, generously grease an 8 ½ x 4 ½ - inch (22 x 11 ½ cm approx) nonstick loaf pan with butter, sprinkle some sugar evenly over the butter and shake the pan to distribute.

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 ½ pound piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a ½ - inch-thick (scant 1 ½ cm) rectangle. As you roll out the dough, use enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface but not so much as to make the dough dry.

Sprinkle the chocolate and chopped prunes over the dough and roll up the dough jelly-roll style to enclose them. Fold the dough over itself several times, turning and pressing it down with the heel of your hand after each turn. This will work the chocolate and prunes (or cherries) into the dough; some may poke through.

With very wet hands, form the dough into a loaf shape and place it into the prepared pan. Allow to rest and rise for 90 minutes, loosely covered with plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). A baking stone is not required and omitting it shortens the preheat.

Using a pastry brush, paint the top of the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake the loaf in the center of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes until firm. Smaller or larger loaves with require adjustments to baking time.

Remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool on a rack before slicing and eating.

CHOCOLATE BREAD DOUGH RECIPE (Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread)

Makes two 2-pound loaves. This recipe is easily doubled or halved. Amounts in parentheses and in italics are for the half recipe.

2 ½ cups (565 ml) (282.5 ml) lukewarm water (100°F or below)
¾ cup (170 ml) (85 ml) vegetable oil
1 Tbs (0.35 oz / 10 g) (5 g) granulated yeast
1 to 1 ½ Tbs (17 to 25 g) (6 to 12 g) kosher salt – * use less if using fine table salt, more if using coarse salt
1 cup (7 ounces / 200 g) (100 g) sugar
5 ½ cups (1 pound, 11 ½ ounces / 780 g) (390 g) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (3 ounces / 85 g) (1.5 oz/ 42.5 g) dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups (6 ounces / 170 g) (3 oz/ 85 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (or finely chopped pecans) - * can omit (for the chocolate prune bread you will be adding chocolate, the amount changes depending upon whether or not you added chocolate chips to the dough at this point)

Mixing and storing the dough:

Mix the oil, yeast, salt and sugar with the water in a 6-quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and the chocolate chips without kneading, using a spoon or heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). If you are not using the machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle with cold. Refrigerate the container of dough and use over the next 5 days. Beyond the 5 days, freeze the dough in 1-pound (about 450 g) portions in airtight containers for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rest and rise time.       

Monday, January 13, 2014

Breakfast Buns

Bread baking has been on the back burner lately, but I noticed that some mornings I would love to have just a little something to go with the morning cup of coffee and fresh fruit. I decided to put together a breakfast bun that would work, and to put in some healthy ingredients, too. Most of all, it has to be yummy because when you can only have a small amount of bread, it should be delicious bread, right?

For starters I cooked up some oatmeal...1/2 cup rolled oats and twice that amount of water...and set it to cool. I also mixed some yeast, water, a tiny bit of sugar and some flour to make a poolish. It all sat out on the counter while I went to the gym, collecting wild yeast if I was lucky.

Later in the day I mixed the cooked oatmeal, the poolish, some milk, and egg and some more water together. In a bowl I mixed all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, a little more yeast (in case no wild yeast were around that were strong enough), and a touch of cinnamon and added those to the liquid mix to make a nice dough.

After the dough had time to rise, I turned it out onto a flour board and kneaded in dried cranberries, chopped pecans and golden raisins. Those were stretched into a large rectangle, most of the rectangle was given a light coat of butter, a sprinkle with brown sugar, and also with cinnamon. I rolled it up, jelly-roll fashion, and cut it into buns.

The buns went into a 9 x 13 pan and lightly covered. They rose over time and then were baked in a 350 degree F oven until golden brown.

So now I had a dozen breakfast buns. There is about 1/6 of the usual amount of oatmeal one might eat at breakfast, whole grain, cinnamon for antioxidant and flavor value, dried fruits and nuts, milk and egg and only about 1/3 tablespoon of butter per bun, with even less sugar. Fairly healthy as buns go and very tasty. For one of the buns I added a small amount of an icing of confectioners sugar mixed with hot water. That made it a little too sweet, so I think in the future I'll stick with the 'plain' buns. Each bun went into it's own bag, then into the freezer for future enjoyment on those days when they will be the perfect thing to go with coffee and fruit.

You might think that I would want one every day, but today I had coffee, fruit and some plain yogurt and it was just enough breakfast. Normally I'd give you the recipe, but I didn't really measure a lot of the ingredients, so I'll have to see if I can figure it out and post it later.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Little Lamb and Some Older Sheep

Our neighbors across the road have a half dozen sheep and one little lamb. We offered to have them in our pasture for a while since our grass has started to be long enough in the fenced pasture and the sheep have eaten all the grass in their own pasture. If we are lucky they will still be with us when one of the mama sheep delivers another lamb. At the moment Pi is very happy to have some other animals on the property and I find it amusing that they bleat quite insistently any time they see us.

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A Little This...A Little That

One of the things I find about the post-holiday season is that hidden in the depths of the fridge there are remnants of meals gone by. It was hard to keep up with all the goodies, especially when well-meaning helpers put them away after a meal and then arranged them, say, behind the large container of grated Parmesan cheese, where they were hard to spot. A few days ago I hunted out quite a few small containers of this and that and put together a nice lunch for two with some of them.

The first find was a good sized amount of cooked rice. I had added some lemon when it cooked, so that was a great place to start. There was a small head of broccoli, so I cut that up into florets and steamed them. I mixed the rice with some pesto I found on the door and heated that up. The last addition was the best; I cut up the last of the smoked salmon into squares, put it on top of the heated rice, and heated that in the microwave for just one minute. With the broccoli placed around the sides of the bowl, it was a lovely looking dish. There was just enough for two lunch sized plates of the mixture and Sweetie as delighted to enjoy it with me while he took a break from installing the new sink in the studio.

Did you find nice ways to use up leftovers after the holidays?

Smoked Salmon with Pesto Rice and Broccoli
Serves 2

1 1/2 cups cooked rice
3 tablespoons prepared pesto (or use more if you desire)
1 cup broccoli florets, steamed (small stems can be used, too)
salt and pepper to taste
2 oz. smoked salmon, cut into bite sized pieces

In a medium bowl mix the cooked rice and the pesto. Heat in the microwave for about 2 minutes, until hot throughout. You may want to stir the mixture after one minute.
Steam the broccoli florets with a small amount of water until bright green and just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain and keep hot.
Place the pieces of salmon on top of the hot rice and microwave for one more minute. Arrange the hot broccoli around the sides of the bowl and serve at once.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Almost Entenmanns

It might seem like I'm a great baker of breads and pastries and that I always have been, but during the 20 years or so when I was most involved in raising my kids, keeping the household going, and holding down a job, that really was only true in a very limited way. Cookies and birthday cakes were about it. For Christmas I would buy a Raspberry Danish pastry from our local bakery outlet Entenmanns. The pastry itself was a fairly flat rectangle in a foil pan, about 6 inches by 10 inches. It had two strips of raspberry jam running down the long way and a dense white drizzle of confectioners sugar icing over the top. My kids loved it! I liked it too, especially because it was easy to heat up in the toaster oven and easy to serve.

This Christmas my daughter wanted that pastry for Christmas morning breakfast, along with our usual fruit bowl and scrambled eggs. Although the local bakery outlet has been closed for about a year, I went online and saw that there was one about 20 minutes away, and promptly forgot all about it. On the Monday before Christmas I looked up the outlet location again and saw that it had been closed. No biggie, right? Went to the Entenmann's site and put in the produce, thinking that I would just buy it at a grocery store. Well, that was wrong. It isn't carried by any store in our county, even though they do carry Entenmann donuts and other products. Whoops! Another search on the internet...don't you just LOVE how easy it is to find out so many things so quickly online?...led to a recipe for a clone of the Entenmann's Raspberry Danish, so I could just make the darn thing. It wouldn't have that certain something from the abundance of chemicals found in the original, but we would just have to put up with a Danish that tasted good.

Knowing that a laminated dough like Danish takes some time, I began making the dough in the morning of Christmas Eve. A butter block (a combination of butter and flour, combined and shaped into a rectangle, then chilled until firm) is essential for achieving the many layers of dough that provide the flakiness characteristic of Danish pastries. The soft, rich dough is wrapped around the butter block, then it is beaten with the rolling pin to break it up a bit, then the dough is rolled out and folded up like a letter. The dough is then chilled. The process is repeated a number of times, each time adding more layers to the dough. Eventually the dough is homogeneous and more turns are taken.

I was also preparing a holiday dinner for special guests that day. By dinner time the dough was done, so I divided it into three long rectangles, set side by side as the recipe directed, in a jelly roll pan.  I missed the part of the directions saying this was for 1/2 the amount of dough; with my experience of major rising, I probably should have divided the dough into four pastries instead of making one. With the warmth of the kitchen as dinner finished cooking and during the meal, the dough rose up mightily! After dinner I quickly turned on the oven and put the raspberry jam down the indents between the dough rectangles, but it was still a monster pastry! As soon as the oven was hot enough I baked it, fearful that it would fall before I had a chance to bake it. When I removed the golden brown, gorgeous (if huge) pastry from the oven I knew that it would be better than anything Entenmann's had ever made. Overnight it flattened out some, which was fine, but it was still a super Danish. I made up some glaze in the morning to drizzle over it (leaving out the apricot glaze) and cut narrow slices. I loved it, but Sweetie and my daughter preferred the grocery store version that Sweetie had found at Raley's on Christmas Eve afternoon, just in case. I guess it did taste and look more like the Entenmann's version, but I loved the buttery, flaky, raspberry good Danish that I made. Next time I'll make four smaller ones and freeze the other three, just for those who appreciate it.

Homemade Entenmann’s® Raspberry Danish Twist

Danish Dough (Makes enough for 2 Loafs):

Primary Dough-
16oz. AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 oz. sugar
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon butter, cold
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast

In a saucepan, heat milk and water to 180 degrees. Allow to cool to 110 degrees. Add yeast and whisk to dissolve.

In the bowl of your mixer add flour, salt and sugar. Using paddle, mix to combine. Cut in butter to evenly disperse. Mix in yeast mixture until barely combined.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs to break up. Slowly add eggs to dough until barely combined. Mix using dough hook, on speed 4 for approximately 4 minutes, until dough is elastic. You will need to stop halfway through to peel dough off the dough hook. Dough will be firm but slightly sticky.
Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Butter Dough-
8 oz. butter, room temperature
2 oz. AP flour

Cream butter and flour together. Form into rectangle shape. Let chill in refrigerator until hardened.
Roll primary dough to 1.5 times the size of butter dough. Encase butter dough in primary dough (as seen in cartoon). Do 2 total turns, chilling the dough from 45 minutes in between each turn.

Apricot Glaze-
2 Tablespoons apricot butter
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
Mix together.

Sugar Glaze-
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon milk
Mix together. 

Assembly (Using 1/2 of dough):
Roll dough into 8″x4″ rectangle, 1″ thick.  Cut vertically into 3 long strips. Lay each strip close to each other, barely touching on a sheet pan covered in  aluminum or parchment.  Turn on oven to 200 degrees for 3 minutes with a cake pan filled with hot water on bottom shelf. Turn oven off. Put sheet pan  with Danish dough into oven and close the door. Do not touch for 60 minutes. (This is how I turn my home oven into a ‘proofer’.)(Note from Elle: my kitchen was so warm that I didn't need to do this...just sitting on top of my microwave was all that was needed.)

After 60 minutes remove tray and cake pan filled with water. The logs that were barely touching should have puffed up.

Fill 1/2 of jam in each crevice between the dough rectangles (logs).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat 1 egg in a small bowl. Brush egg on danish dough.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until caramel brown.

While warm brush with Apricot Glaze.  Let cool to room temperature. Drizzle with Sugar Glaze.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


In ancient Roman myth, Janus was the god of beginnings and endings, which is one reason that they named January after him. Now that we are past the shortest, darkest day of the year, it is somehow fitting to begin to look towards the time of year when there will be more light, more growing things, and plenty of time out of doors to enjoy. But it's also a useful time to look back at what worked and didn't work in our lives this past year, to remember the good times, too. I like to look back at the things I've included on the blog. A careful look has reminded me that my list of recipes with links is waaaaay overdue for updating. A New Years's resolution waiting to happen, right there.

One thing I can tell you is that the kidney stone I had last January made a different diet essential; one that does not include as much oxalate. Banished are much loved foods like spinach, chard, chocolate and mery much of whole grains. Limited quantities of legumes, except for lentils, and of flours and other processed grains has also cut into my usual dishes and baking. The good news is that there are still plenty of wonderful foods to enjoy, including things like broccoli and all the squashes, romaine lettuce and iceberg (which at least has crunch) and many other veggies like carrots, celery, tomatoes and cucumbers. I confess that I'm still a bit unbalanced by it since things I had thought were good for me, like whole grains and spinach, are actually bad for me now. So for, say, Christmas Eve dinner, I had a half of one of those great rolls, a small portion of those delicious potatoes, but a goodly portion of the salad since it had romaine, iceberg and red cabbage, plus carrots and tomatoes. Went light on the ham, too, because of all the sodium, but that's a different health issue. In truth the most important part of the meal is the people around the table and the enjoyment of them is full and wonderful and hasn't changed a bit. I still enjoy my occasional glass of wine, too.

Some of the recipes from 2013 that I'm pretty sure I'll return to include the potatoes and rolls on the last post,
these crock pot caramelized onions,

these white chocolate macadamia nut cookies (because I can't have regular chocolate, but I can have white chocolate!),

this oyster stew since there is plenty of soup weather to come (and it better include LOTS of rain since we are in a severe drought right now and NEED rain),

this cherry tomato salad, because it is simple and fast, burrata is delicious, and with our lack of rain I'm not likely to grow anything next summer but cherry tomatoes.

Because there is always a great selection of stone fruits and berries each summer, I know I'll want to make

the free form pie with moondust powder using some of that fruit. Since there is also likely to be an occasion that requires bringing a pot luck dish,

I'm going to keep this post of a wild rice and carrot side dish handy. It has all of the necessary attributes for a good pot luck dish: delicious, sits at room temperature well, filling, pretty easy, can be made ahead, and is unusual. The bowl that it is served in is often the first one empty at pot lucks, so that should tell you something.

We made a lot of good bread this year, but my favorite Bread Baking Babes bread was the Italian flavored
Tomato Basil Garlic Filled Pane Bianco. Not only is the large loaf delicious and stunning to look at, but the same ingredients can be used to make little appetizer rolls. Another great baked good from 2013 is for

classic blueberry muffins. I can almost smell them!

There is also Fast Focaccia, a recipe that I also made for Christmas this year. That sort of brings it all full circle.
Do you have any other favorites from this year's Feeding My Enthusiasms posts? I would love to know what they are!