Monday, June 05, 2023

Strawberry and Rhubarb

Continuing the strawberry theme, I have to tell you about this strawberry-rhubarb pie! 

I've always loved the tang of fresh rhubarb and it goes really well with sweet strawberries. We are finally getting the fresh local strawberries from our local farm stand. It's been an unusually cool spring, so many things are slower in ripening than usual. So glad to be able to enjoy the superior strawberries that are grown at this Laguna farm.

One of the fun things about this pie is that the parts that make it up can be made in advance and then the pie assembled the day you plan to serve it...even right before you serve it (almost). This makes it a great dessert for a dinner party or just for a busy day. The filling can be made up to three days in advance, the crumb topping can be made two or three days ahead, and the blind baked pie crust can be made a day or two before. The filling can be kept in the fridge and the other two components can be saved in an air-tight container at room temperature.

The other great thing about this is that everyone seems to love it...even people who don't particularly love rhubarb. The sweet strawberries and the cooking mellow out the rhubarb just enough that everyone can enjoy it. It also looks pretty and special with the bright filling and the alluring crumb topping. Add to the fun by whipping some cream so that you can add a scoop when serving. Of course if this is a pie meant to impress, you can pipe whipped cream starts along the edge of the filling, too. If you do that for 4th of July in the U.S., add some fresh blueberries on each whipped cream star and you have the national colors.

Do try this delicious pie! It makes me smile when I think of it...and eat it.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Streusel Topping

Serves 8

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Filling 
Makes enough for one shallow 8-inch pie

3 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
 2 3/4 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped or sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Combine all of the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot.
Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly so that it doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pot.
Simmer for another 5-10 minutes until rhubarb is soft and filling has thickened.
Cool and use right away, or put into a covered container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Bring slowly to room temperature before using in the pie.

Blind Baked Pie Crust

Use your favorite recipe for a single crust pie, or do as I do and use a single crust from a refrigerated pie crust. I like Pillsbury ReadyCrust.

On a floured surface roll the pie out (if needed) to fit an 8-inch pie tin. Transfer the crust to the tin by draping it over your rolling pin. Fit the crust into the pie tin and crimp the edges, trimming excess crust as needed. Cut a piece of parchment paper or foil to fit the inside of the pie tin and place it loosely over the prepared crust. Fill with pie weights, or do as I do and fill it with dried lentils. Save the lentils to use the next time you need pie weights. They are very inexpensive and sit close enough to each other to do a great job of keeping the crust from getting over bubbly. Bake in a preheated 435 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the lentils cool before removing them carefully and either discarding them or saving them for next time. If the crust still seems a bit raw, put it back in the oven for another minute, then cool crust in pie tin on a wire rack.


1/4 pound, 1 stick, 4 oz, 8 tablespoons butter or margarine, very cold
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup old fashioned oats

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment,

In a large bowl mix together the flour and brown sugar. Cut in the butter until mixture forms clumps.

Put streusel on the baking sheet and break up the clumps a bit so none are bigger than bite sized. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Streusel should be medium to dark brown but not burnt. Remove baking sheet to a wire rack and let streusel cool .

Making the Pie

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
Put the pie filling, at room temperature, in the blind baked, cooled, pie shell. Level with an offset spatula. Liberally sprinkle the streusel over the filling. Bake the pie in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Serve at room temperature or cold. Store leftovers, if any, at room temperature or in the fridge.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Classic Strawberry Shortcake

We are finally getting local strawberries and they are just the best...sweet and juicy, so fragrant and fat. A family tradition is to have strawberry shortcake for the May birthdays. Two sisters down just had her birthday, so this is for her.

Although I enjoy a strawberry shortcake made with sweetened biscuit dough, the classic cake for the family was a plain yellow cake (often made from a mix in a box) with strawberries sandwiched in the middle and whipped cream over the top.

I found a great plain yellow cake in a book called The Wooden Spoon Dessert Book by Marilyn Moore. Since I only wanted one layer, I baked half the recipe, but I'm giving you the full recipe so you have enough cake to serve it if you are gathering for Memorial Day.

Because there was only Sweetie and myself enjoying this decadent dessert, I just cut wedges from the single layer and then topped them with the sliced berries and topped them with whipped cream. 

If you make the full two layer cake, I would recommend at least three pints of strawberries be used. Slice two pints and take the third one and slice, put into a bowl and then mash the berries. Use this pint of mashed berries to fill the middle between the two layers of cake, then top that with another pint's worth of sliced berries. Top with the second layer, adorn with whipped cream, and then serve the third pint at the table to be added for those who need more berries. You can save a few perfect berries to use for decoration on top after applying the whipped cream, if desired. 

Rotation Cake
by Marilyn Moore in The Wooden Spoon Dessert Book

Grease and lightly flour two 9 x 2-inch layer cake pans. If desired, add a round of parchment to each pan, then grease that. Remember to remove the parchment when you removed the cakes from their pans after cooling.

1 cup cake flour, sifted before measuring
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) soft unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup half and half

To make Strawberry Shortcake add:
3 pints strawberries
1-2 pints heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoons sugar

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together until light and fluffy the butter and sugar, adding the sugar gradually.

Add, one at a time, the eggs, beating well after each and scraping the bowl with a flexible spatula as needed.

Blend in the vanilla and beat briefly to combine.

Use the mixed dry ingredients and the half and half to finish the batter, adding alternately (three parts dry, two parts half and half), blending after each addition and scraping the bowl and beaters with a flexible spatula as needed.

Spoon and scrape the batter into the prepared pans. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. 

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 30 - 35 minutes, turning the pans a quarter turn half way through. The cake is baked when the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center. Cool on wire racks for 5 minutes, carefully turn out to cook completely, right side up, after removing the parchment paper on the bottom, if necessary. Fill and frost as desired.

If Strawberry Shortcake is desired:

Prepare the berries as described in the headnote.
Chill the bowl and beaters of an electric mixer for at least half an hour...can be chilled in the fridge or the freezer.

When chilled, remove from the fridge/freezer and add the whipping cream. Attach the beaters to the mixer (if available use the whisk attachment) and begin beating on medium speed. After a few seconds, begin adding the sugar gradually. Increase the mixer speed to high and continue to beat until the whipped cream holds soft peaks.

Immediately place one cake layer, top side down, on a serving plate. Top with the mashed berried, then the sliced berries. Top with the second layer, top side up. Mound the whipped cream over the top, swirling with the back of a spoon, or put the whipped cream in a pastry bag with a large star tip and pipe stars all over the top. Decorate with reserved berries, if desired. Serve slices and pass the extra sliced strawberries and any extra whipped cream to put on the side.

Note: If a smaller amount is desired, bake half the recipe in one 9 x 2-inch pan and use half the berries and a pint of whipping cream. You can cut wedges and add the berries and cream as I did, or slice the layer in half and put berries in the middle and cream on top as described above.

Friday, May 19, 2023

A Delicious Way To Get Your Veggies

Sweetie really liked this dish and said if we had this all the time that he would eat more vegetables...that sounds like a vote for this veggie pasta dish that is roughly a pasta primavera. The primavera part is Italian (I think) for Spring. The zucchini is certainly not a spring vegetable, but most of the rest are.

This is sort of a three-ring circus pasta. You are boiling pasta water, and then pasta, prepping and steaming or boiling some veggies and also sautéing others. Then you are also making a cheese sauce!

It takes a bit of time to prep the veggies but it can be done while the pasta water comes to a boil. I used the microwave to steam the broccoli, zucchini and snap peas, but you could also use the pasta water to blanch each in turn. Once blanched immediately submerge the veggie in an ice water bath to stop the cooking and to keep the bright colors. I would blanch them long enough that they are tender but still have some bite to them. In the microwave the broccoli (being in small florets) took about 45 seconds and the other two took a minute. I used a steamer pot with perforated lid and a tiny amount of water.

The second thing to do while the pasta cooks is to make the cheese sauce. This is a white cheese sauce and you can either use all ricotta, or part ricotta and part fresh farmer's cheese as I did. I've done it with all ricotta and that is lovely, too. Boiling water, added in small amounts followed by stirring with a mini-whisk, turns the cheeses into a silky sauce and a bit of grated Parmesan, salt and pepper, plus some nutmeg, gives it flavor. You can use the pasta water as the pasta is boiling and heat the sauce over very low heat until all the other elements are done.

Before I started the pasta water I prepared the truly savory part of this dish. I sautéed chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped carrot and chopped red pepper. Once the onion started to brown at the edges in the mixture of olive oil and melted butter, I turned the heat down and kept it at low heat, stirring once in a while, so that the carrots had a chance to soften and the onions to brown a bit more without burning the garlic.

A large, wide bowl is the best for mixing the elements of this dish together and for serving. Once the pasta is cooked, the steamed veggies, sautéed veggies and the cheese sauce all get tossed together. The final touch is a sprinkle of grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

Sort of Pasta Primavera
Serves 3-4

1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped, no seeds or stem
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into small dice
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (I like cremini mushrooms)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or non-dairy 'butter'

1/2 pound rotini pasta
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas that have been cut diagonally into thirds
1/2 - 1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets

1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh farmers cheese (or 1/2 cup ricotta and no farmer's cheese)
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
dash salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet put the olive oil and the butter and set over medium heat until the butter melts. Stir.
Add the onions, increase the heat to medium-high and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is translucent. Add the red pepper, garlic, carrots and mushrooms, and stir. Continue cooking and stirring every minute or so until edges begin to brown on the onions. Cover and reduce heat to very low. Continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent burning.

While sautéed veggies continue to cook, put a very large pot of water on to boil. While it is coming to a boil, prepare the zucchini, snap peas and broccoli.

Once the water comes to a boil, add the amount of salt you like in your pasta water (I use 1/4 teaspoon...some people like more!) Add the pasta, stir, and return to a boil.

While the pasta cooks, prepare the cheese sauce. In a small pot combine the  two cheeses and 1 tablespoon of the boiling pasta water (but no pasta). Stir to combine. I use a mini-whisk but have done it with a small flexible silicon spatula or a teaspoon. Once combined, add another tablespoon of pasta water and stir again until smooth.  Add the seasoning and stir. If the sauce looks too thick, continue to add water, a tablespoon at a time until desired thickness. Sauce should coat the pasta in the finished dish. Keep warm over a very low heat. Stir every minute or so.

Prepare the broccoli, zucchini and snap peas: steam in the microwave or cook is a separate pot of boiling water.  If boiling, remove and put into an ice bath, then remove from ice bath and drain, then add to sautéed veggies. Do this one ingredient at a time. Length of time should be to just barely make them tender. When you are done, all three will be on top of the sautéed veggies, with the lid on to keep hot.

When pasta is cooked to your desired doneness, drain and put into a large, wide bowl. Top with the veggies and then with the sauce. Toss to combine. Sprinkle combined pasta & veggies with the Parmesan cheese and serve at once.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Mother's Day Breakfast Super Pancake

Being away from my kitchen on Mother's Day seemed strange, but fortunately my daughter's family was fine with me making a super sized Dutch Baby with berries for breakfast, so I still got to bake. BTG-guy made bacon and Raine manned the powder sugar sieve. It was delicious and easy. If you just do it with blueberries, it's even easier...we used blueberries and cubed strawberries.

I've now made this dish using four different ovens and I have to say that knowing your oven makes it easier to bake this. You want to know how quickly your oven gets to the heat needed for the recipe. If it takes a long time, don't put the pan with butter into the oven at the start. Wait until the oven is at least half way heated. If it heats up quickly, put the pan in at the beginning. Keep an eye on the butter. It's OK (delicious even) if the butter browns a bit, but you don't want to burn the milk solids...yet you still want the baking pan sizzling hot.

I had to remove the pan because the oven heated slowly and the butter browned before the oven was hot enough. As a result, the pan cooled a bit, so the pancake was a bit less puffy, although still delicious.

For toppings, more berries are great. Maple syrup is good. Traditional takes on this include just powdered sugar sifted on top and both sifted powdered sugar and lemon juice on top. Could be great with whipped cream, too. For dessert, a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be divine.

Dutch Baby with Strawberries and Blueberries

Serves 5-6

5 tablespoons butter (or non-dairy margarine or 'butter')
6 large eggs
1 cup milk (or nut milk)
1 cup all-purpose flour
dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a few drops lemon oil (optional)

1/2 cup fresh strawberries, washed and drained and cubed to about the size of the blueberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, washed and drained and picked over for stems or over-ripe berries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)

More berries for on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

As oven preheats, put the butter in an ungreased 9x13-inch baking pan and place in the oven, just until the butter is melted. (Mine started to brown slightly at the edges)

Place the eggs, milk, flour, salt and vanilla, (and lemon oil, if using) in a blender and process until smooth. Scrape down the sides, if needed, and process again for a few seconds.

Pour the batter into the hot baking pan, over the melted butter. Sprinkle with the strawberries, blueberries and with the sugar (if using).

Bake, for 20-27 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Pancake will puff up, but will sink down again as it cools once removed from the oven.

Serve at once. Can sprinkle with powdered sugar, with lemon juice, or serve with maple syrup and/or more berries.

Note: you can make this without berries, too, and it will still puff up gloriously and taste wonderful.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

A Great Minestrone Soup

I suspect that every Italian cook has their own version of this soup. I read the recipe recently on the Washington Post newsletter Voraciously for this version, but, of course, made a few changes myself.  Below the recipe in the newsletter there are variation, too.

To start with, I didn't have celery or carrots but I had the rest, so forged ahead. I used the chicken broth for the liquid and used gemelli pasta since that's what I had (I was making this at night once I saw the recipe...because I had the time and was inspired by the full flavors and the description). Instead of red beans, I used cannellini beans, because I like their velvety texture in a soup. I put the finished soup in the fridge to mellow overnight because my experience is that anything with onion is better the next day. It's a delicious version of this classic soup.

I'm giving you the recipe as it was in the Washington Post Newsletter. You get to make your own changes!!

Family Favorite Minestrone

Storage: Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Servings: 6
Total time: 45 mins


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ribs celery, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 1 large yellow onion (10 ounces), diced
  • 1 large carrot (4.5 ounces), scrubbed well, then diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper (5 ounces), seeded and diced
  • 1 medium zucchini (8 ounces), diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added small red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup dried, whole-grain or regular elbow pasta
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, for garnish


1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the celery, onion, carrot and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 6 minutes.

2. Add the zucchini, garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the flavors meld a bit, about 10 minutes.

3. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the beans and pasta and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the pasta and vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Divide among individual bowls, garnish each portion with the cheese and serve.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

For All You Chocolate Lovers

It's been a while since I baked anything with chocolate...which is too bad because chocolate treats are some of the best. Sweetie likes his on the soft side, so I wandered through my cookbooks and found a recipe in Dorie Greenspan's Dorie's Cookies that sounded just right. A bar cookie, so easy to make multiple servings, all at once. The addition of walnuts adds to the joy. A little espresso brings out the chocolate richness. Extra chocolate in the form of chips or chunks (I went with the latter). Don't overbake...and that's chocolate perfection.

This cookie is a cross between a blondie (due to lots of brown sugar), a brownie (it even has the paper thin 'crust' that good brownies often have), and, according to Dorie, shortbread. I suspect I would have had to cook mine longer to get that last one, but, again, Sweetie like his cookies soft and even gooey.

They were a hit! I served them for tea one day, with lunch another, for a snack at tea time another and even put one into a lunch bag with sandwich and apple for a friend who was driving a long way home and needed lunch...and maybe dinner...from it all. You choose if you go for the really gooey inside pieces or the outside ones that have a firmer texture except for the corner toward the center on each, where they, too, are gooey (see photo below- right hand corner is toward the center, left side is outside edge). Enjoy the sweet chocolate flavor offset by the espresso powder and the chewy walnuts...and the occasional burst of chocolate chunks. Wonderful!!

Fudgy Mocha Bars

from Dorie Greenspan's Dorie's Cookies
16 squares

1 3/4 cups (238 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (21 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons ground espresso or coffee beans (or instant)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces; 170 grams) unsalted butter; cut into chunks, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup (134 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces; 170 grams) chocolate pieces (finely chopped in recipe, chunks in my version) - semisweet, bittersweet or milk
1 cup (120 grams) walnuts (finely chopped in recipe, coarsely chopped in my version)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. - center rack in the oven. Butter or spray with baking spray a 9-inch square baking pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder and baking soda together in a bowl. Set aside.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter, brown and white sugars and salt together on medium speed for 2 minutes, until smooth.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Use a flexible spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl and the beaters.

Add the dry ingredients all at once. On lowest speed, pulse on and off (to avoid most of the flying flour) a few times then beat on low until almost incorporated. 

Add the chocolate and nuts and mix briefly, then finish mixing in by hand with the spatula. The finished dough will be sticky and heavy. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and use the spatula to push the dough into the corners and to even the top as best you can.

Bake for 33-36 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes. When done the top will be dry and papery and a tester inserted in the center will come out clean (unless you hit a chocolate chunk like I did!). Transfer to cooling rack and let cool 30 minutes.

Gently run a table knife around the sides of the pan. Invert the cookie block onto the cooling rack, then invert again onto a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares. Let cool or eat warm. Store any leftovers at room temperature, wrapped, for up to 3 days. Tightly wrapped, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

BBB - It's The Seeds

Each month the Bread Baking Babes bake a new bread and post on the 16th. There are seemingly endless bread recipes out there. This month we are baking a delicious seeded ciabatta, thanks to Cathy of Bread Experience.  She said, "My version is adapted from the seeded ciabatta and buckwheat ciabatta formulas from The Larousse Book of Bread Recipes to Make at Home by Eric Kayser, and includes an overnight poolish similar to the method in The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking from The French Culinary Institute.". The recipe includes a poolish, which mellows overnight, seeds, and a combination of different flours. I've baked seeded breads many times, but this is the first time that the recipe called for roasting the seeds first and immediately covering them with water to soak for a few hours. I loved the way the kitchen smelled after all the seeds were roasted!

I used four different seeds and roasted them separately since they took different amounts of time. The poppy seeds needed the least time, followed by the sesame seeds. The pumpkin and sunflower seeds both took about the same amount of time and it was more than double what the smaller seeds needed. I'm not going to give a time because ovens vary in their roasting abilities and how hot they get so you need to use your nose when you roast your own. You should just be able to smell the seeds giving off an aroma when you pull them from the oven. You can also see if they have browned a bit with the sesame and sunflower. Harder to do with the pumpkin seeds and impossible with the black poppy seeds. Be sure to use freshly purchased seeds for the best flavor.

The bread was also interesting to make. I did the poolish with some instant yeast and whole wheat flour since my sourdough starter is no more. I also made an additional poolish with all-purpose flour and water (and I subtracted that amount of both from the recipe for the next part to keep the proportions true) and then stirred that into the poolish which had sat overnight. I gave the new mixture another couple of hours to mellow and for the yeasties to grow before doing the rest.

I had a difficult time mixing the next seemed too dry... and I don't think it was because I used oat flour for some of my flour I added a bit more water so that I could actually combine the ingredients fully...through adding the olive oil. Later I had to add additional flour to make up for that extra water, but it did eventually turn into a nice dough, although a damp one. If I were to do it again, I think I would put things into the bowl in a different order.

The last thing that was an issue was totally my fault. I used a pie tin for the ice tray on the top shelf, but didn't check to make sure it was watertight. It had a small leak, so some of the bread had standing water next to it on the baking sheet. It took a bit of doing to finish baking those wet parts without drying out the rest.

The final part was tasting the bread. I was very happy with the amount of seeds and the flavor and the crust, too. It makes superb toast! I think that each ciabatta was enough bread for two people, so next time I might divide it into eight pieces. This was a lot of fun to make (although nerve wracking at the end when I discovered the unbaked leaked on part) and delicious to eat. Do give it a try!

If you do bake this, become a Bread Baking Babe Buddy by emailing Cathy your URL and a photo, plus a brief description of your April 29th. You'll get a badge similar to the one below.

Be sure to check out the other Babes sites, too, to see how they made this delightful recipe their own.

Mixed Grain Seeded Ciabatta

Makes: 4 loaves (~280 grams each)


45 grams water

45 grams whole wheat flour (such as red fife or spelt)

15 grams sourdough starter or a pinch of dried yeast

Final Dough:

400 grams all-purpose flour

150 grams whole wheat flour (I used spelt)

350-385 grams water, divided

Poolish all of the above

½ tsp. instant yeast

10 grams salt

30 grams extra virgin olive oil

90 grams mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, fennel, sesame, millet, poppy, etc.)

½ cup water for soaking the seeds

1 cup ice cubes for steam



The evening before you plan to make the final dough, blend the whole wheat flour, water, and sourdough starter (or pinch of instant yeast) using a wooden spoon or dough whisk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a bowl scraper or spatula, cover, and set aside at warm room temperature (75 degrees F. / 25 degrees C.) for 12 to 14 hours.

Roast the seeds:

The evening before, or 2-3 hours before you prepare the final dough, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Spread the seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 7 to 10 minutes.  Depending on the type of seeds you choose, it could take more or less time.  Watch the seeds so they don’t burn.

Immediately tip the roasted seeds into a small bowl and cover with ¼ to ½ cup of water. Allow the seeds to soak for 2 hours.  Drain the excess water before incorporating into the dough.

Final Dough:

You can use a stand mixer to mix this dough, but isn’t necessary. 

In a large bowl, mix together the flours and 325 grams water.  Cover, let rest 15 minutes.

Add the poolish, along with the salt and instant yeast and mix until fully incorporated.  The dough should be slightly sticky.

Drizzle in the olive oil and mix until thoroughly combined.  Fold in the seeds. Add in additional water, a little at a time, if necessary and continue to mix until you have a smooth and elastic dough.

Form the dough into a ball, place back in the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

After the first hour, uncover and fold the dough. Recover and let rest for 1 hour.

Dust your work surface with flour. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (~280 grams each).  Fold each piece over itself and stretch into a log.  Cover the dough pieces with a damp towel and let rest 15 minutes.

Take one piece of dough. Leave the other pieces covered. Using the palm of your hand, flatten it very gently.  Fold a third of the dough (long side) toward the center and press along the edge with your fingers or the side of your hand. Fold the other long edge towards the center and press the seam closed with your fingers.  Continue shaping the other 3 loaves the same way.

If desired, coat the loaves with additional seeds (not soaked).  Place the seeds on a plate. Brush or spray the loaves with water and press them into the seeds to evenly coat the tops.  Transfer the loaves seamside down to a parchment lined baking sheet or seamside up on a baker’s couche heavily dusted with flour.  (Although I enjoy using a baker’s couche, you don’t really need it for these loaves.  The parchment works great.)

Cover with a damp cloth and let the loaves proof for 1 hour.

During the final proof, preheat the oven to 460 degrees F. with a baking stone on the lower middle rack and a steam pan or iron skillet on the top rack.

Transfer the loaves (on the baking sheet) to the baking stone and immediately place 1 cup of ice cubes in the steam pan. 

Bake the loaves for 25 -30 minutes, rotating the pan partway through for even baking.  The loaves should sound hollow when thumped lightly on the bottom.

Remove the loaves from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Brush lightly with olive oil.  

Friday, April 14, 2023

Inspiration for Entertaining

A while ago when I was visiting family in Phoenix, they threw an evening gathering and decided to go with wine, beer, sodas, water, and an amazing charcutier board. It was purchased from a local store and was the most amazing collection of snack foods I can remember seeing...and so delightful to the eye.

I'm not sure that I have the skill to replicate something like this, but you might be able to using the photo. There are swirls of things like salami and pepperoni, wedges of cheeses, slices of cucumber, cherry tomato halves, olives, pepper strips, broccoli and cauliflower florets, all kinds fruits, fresh and dried, and nuts and pretty things like oranges cut with spiked 'petals' and a few orchids. Their special extra was to sprinkle glitter powder - edible of course - lightly over a few places for sparkle. I think that they started by putting the brie wedges in a curved line in the middle of the platter, then arranged, mostly, fruit and nuts on one side and veggies on the other with meats and cheeses on both sides.

The nice thing about a platter or charcutier board like this is that it can be done in advance and it looks spectacular! You really don't need much else besides beverages. It did come with a bag that had thin slices of baguette. We added to that. Toasting them a bit prior to the party is also a good idea. Provide a few spreaders for spreading the cheese on the baguette slices, too.

Ready, set, party!

Saturday, April 08, 2023

Happy Easter!

We have had a cool and rainy spring...even today was cloudy and cool for us...but the tulips are blooming and I have seedlings of tomatoes and squash growing in the sunspace, waiting for warmer soil and more sunshine.

Wishing you, dear reader, a most happy Easter, Spring, and vernal time of year. 

We're going to enjoy strawberry shortcake for Easter tomorrow. The strawberries are not local...too much rain...won't seed local berries until May...but it will still be delicious, with home-made biscuits, sliced strawberries and their juice, and freshly whipped Straus Dairy cream from local something is local. 

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Lemon Raspberry Crumble Bars for Spring

There is something really nice about the combination of lemon and raspberry. Lemon is a winter flavor and raspberry is a spring flavor, but together they are heavenly and not limited to any season. This recipe was found in the Costco Connections magazine for April, so thinking spring. I needed something sweet to serve with tea a couple of days ago...a friend was coming over for tea and to play a game. This seemed like just the thing...and I had almost all of the ingredients handy.

First you have an oatmeal-rich bottom crust, then a sweet and creamy lemony filling, then fresh raspberries for a topping...topped with crumbles of the bottom crust mixture which bake up crispy and golden brown. What a great combination! Lot of textures as well as flavors, sweet offset with the tartness of lemon and fresh raspberry.

You do need to chill these after baking and before cutting, which is tough because the kitchen smells so good that you want to just dig in!

You also should be prepared for a few dishes to clean while they bake, but they are so delicious that it is worth it, too.

At the bottom of the post is a photo of a jack-in-the-pulpit wildflower that I found near the baseball field where we walk Pi. You can see how it got it's name! Happy Spring dear reader.

Lemon Raspberry Crumb Bars

Serves 12

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature (12 tablespoons)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup quick oats
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
1 egg yolk
1 cup raspberries
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Zest the lemon. Set aside.

Juice the lemons. Set aside.

Separate the egg. Set aside the yolk. Reserve the white for another use.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the crust/topping: In a large bowl, mix together the crust/topping ingredients until there are no butter chunks and the mixture begins to clump together. (I found that using a pastry cutter first and then my fingers, that I could cut in the butter and then rub it into the dry ingredients until I could squeeze clumps on the mixture that held together.) 

Press three-quarters of the mixture on the bottom of a lightly greased 7 x 11-inch baking pan. (First line the pan with parchment paper hanging over the sides to easily lift the dessert out of the pan once baked and chilled.) Set aside.

Prepare the filling: In a separate bowl, mix together the sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon zest and egg yolk. Spread onto the crust. Toss the raspberries with the flour and sugar in another bowl. Mash lightly with a fork, keeping some fruit intact, then dollop the raspberries onto the lemon filling, spacing over the whole pan. Some areas won't have raspberries. Crumble the remaining crust mixture over the top of the raspberries.

Bake 30-35 minutes in the preheated oven until the crust browns and the center of the filling is set when tested with a toothpick. Cover with foil if browning occurs before the filling is set.

Chill 1-2 hours before cutting and serving. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers. Makes 12 servings.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Fan Favorite Oldie But Goodie

The photos don't do this dish all. Trust me when I say that this recipe will become one of your favorites, just like it's a favorite of others stopping by this blog.

I first posted about this casserole in the spring of 2009. A lot of life has happened since then, but the recipe has been a continually searched one over the years. I first made it even longer ago than 2009, maybe even before my kids were born. It's from a delightful and unusual cookbook called the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Unusual because the recipes were written by hand and the illustrations were done by photographs, no type to speak of, just warm and welcoming recipes with lots of them vegetarian, many of them celebrating cultures other than U.S.A. cultures, and ones that became favorites, like this one. Delightful because you will likely keep finding another recipe you want to try as you make your way through the book. It was first published in 1977. If you don't find it at Powell's Books (a Portland, Oregon bookstore that has a lot of used books of all kinds), then check Amazon or your local library, used book store, etc. It's a great cookbook to have on your shelf.

This recipe, Spinach-Rice Casserole, has brown rice with it's nutty flavor, spinach, cheddar cheese, eggs and milk, and some seasonings. Don't skip the sunflower seeds on top...they not only taste great and add texture, but their fragrance mingles with the other ingredients to make your kitchen smell cozy and welcoming. Perhaps the best part is that you will likely have leftovers...and they are even better than the first night. I just returned from four days in Phoenix, visiting family, and Sweetie ate leftover Spinach-Rice Casserole the first two nights I was gone. I think he would have eaten it the next two nights, but it was all gone.

Cook the brown rice first because brown rice takes a little longer than white rice. While it's cooking you chop the onion and mince the garlic and grate the cheese. I use frozen spinach that is already just needs thawing and then squeezing the thawed spinach to get out the excess liquid. Eggs get whisked, milk added, and parsley chopped. Then you sauté the onion and garlic, add almost all of the rest of the ingredients and stir them together, add the rice and combine everything so that it can be turned out into a buttered casserole dish. After a sprinkle of both sunflower seeds and paprika, the casserole gets covered, baked, uncovered, baked some more, than cooled just enough that it doesn't burn your mouth. Feast on a soft and gloriously flavored casserole with a bit of crunch from the sunflowers. You'll be glad you took the time to bake this dish. So will friends and/or family because this make a good sized casserole (about 9 x 13-inches) that can feed quite a few lucky folks.

Spinach-Rice Casserole, based on a recipe from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, 1977

2 cloves minced garlic
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (More, to taste)
3 tablespoons butter (I used 2 tablespoons olive oil)
2 lbs. raw, chopped spinach or, as I did, use 1 package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
4 cups cooked brown rice
4 beaten eggs 
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons tamari (optional)
a few dashes each - nutmeg, cayenne
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Saute' onions and garlic with the salt in butter (or oil). When onions are soft, add spinach. Cook 2 minutes. (Alternately, thaw and drain a 10 oz box frozen chopped spinach. Add to onion mixture, but don't cook any further.)
Combine the onion mixture with the brown rice, eggs, milk, cheese, parsley, tamari, nutmeg, cayenne. Spread into buttered casserole and sprinkle sunflower seeds and then paprika on top.
Bake, covered, 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

Serves 4 - 6

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Ruby Tuesday

 I was looking back at some of my posts in early 2009 and saw that an event going around was Ruby Tuesday...posting a photo on Tuesdays that has a red element that was important to the photo. It's OK to use a filter, as I did with this one - film grain, if you want it more like art.

Today's photo, posted on a Tuesday for tradition, was taken in Phoenix. I'll be visiting there again soon and look forward to the sun. We have been having a delightfully rainy time here for the last few weeks, with the occasional break for sun, but it's warmer in Phoenix and I look forward to enjoying the warmth and sun with family. Sweetie will still be home. Pi would be miserable without him.