Monday, December 09, 2019

A Great Brother


A few days ago my older brother, who has blogged here as a guest blogger called No Handle, lost his fight with cancer. He was a great brother and a good man. There really are no words that would do him justice, or perhaps the words are just not available to me right now. R.I.P. James Maxwell.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Enjoying a Tipsy Parson


Pumpkin pie is one of the traditional Thanksgiving desserts, but I made a pumpkin pie for Sweetie days before Thanksgiving, so I was open to another soft dessert. In one of the recipe collections that seem to land in my email box frequently, I found just the recipe - tipsy parson, a variation on the traditional Christmas trifle.


Although they said that you could use sponge cake ladyfingers, they also said that pound cake would work, so I made one from a mix, adding lemon zest because I like lemon. When the cake was cooled, I cut it into cubes, which went into the bottom of the serving dishes.

The last of the Gravenstein apples were peeled and cored and sliced, then cooked with a bit of apple juice and some cinnamon until soft...after all a soft dessert is what I'm looking for.

I made a half batch of the Pouring Custard HERE, then let it chill in the fridge.

I made a simple syrup by boiling water and brown sugar. When mostly cool, I added rum to make a syrup to lightly soak the bread cubes with. This is the tipsy part.

Now all of the parts of the dessert were ready! The syrup went over the cubed cake, the apples went over that, then the custard went over that. A sprinkle of cinnamon added to the looks and flavor. The tipsy parson was ready for tasting. Sweetie really liked the combination and I enjoyed the flavor and the soft texture. It made a great seasonal Thanksgiving treat thanks to the spiced apples. I made the desserts in individual dished, but you can also make it in one dish and serve it out into individual dessert dishes.

You can adapt this recipe quite a lot. The cake can be sponge, ladyfingers, unfrosted Bundt cake and pound cake. It's fine to use purchased cake. Angel food cake wouldn't work because it doesn't soak up the spirited syrup the same way. You can use any liquor or whiskey that has flavor compatible with what you are topping the dessert with. For instance, you could use kirsch, cherries, and a chocolate sponge with chocolate or vanilla pudding and some whipped cream on top for a Black Forest type dessert. In summer using Amaretto for the soak, stone fruit and vanilla custard would be delicious! How about rum in the brown sugar simple syrup, bananas cooked in brown sugar and vanilla pudding for a Bananas Foster flavored dessert? It's OK to use pre-made pudding like Kozy Shack instead of making your own, but the pouring custard is really delicious and not that hard to make...choices, choices.


Tipsy Parson
from My Recipes, Stacey Ballis
6 servings

Pouring Custard (follow link) or pre-made pudding
1 (3-oz.) package ladyfingers, split or cake cut into cubes
1/4 cup sherry (I used 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, boiled together for a minute, cooled and 1/4 cup rum added)
Strawberries(I had about two cups cooked, cinnamon spiced apples slices)

Sprinkle 12 ladyfinger halves with sherry. Let stand 5 minutes. Line sides of a 1-quart souffle' dish with soaked ladyfingers; pour in custard, then top with remaining ladyfingers. Chill completely. Garnish with strawberries. Spoon into individual serving bowls.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Butternut Tenderloin for Thanksgiving


It's something of a challenge to come up with a festive meal for Thanksgiving when you are limited to soft foods. My oral surgery of last week came with instructions to take in only liquids the first few days and then soft, mushy foods to finish out the week. A friend hoped that my mashed potato milkshake was delicious but I actually had a nice meal that included mashed potatoes and jellied cranberry sauce. The star of the plate was from a recipe that one of my sisters sent me...Butternut Squash Tenderloin. Now we all know that squash don't have loins, so why that moniker? It's because the neck of the squash, if cooked and peeled, has the shape of a tenderloin and if you season it, brown it and roast it so that the outside has a nice seasoned and browned crust, it can be sliced like a tenderloin of meat.


It was really delicious and filling, but there was no getting away from the fact that it was butternut squash. If you enjoy squash like I do, that's a good thing. It went well with the sides on the plate and was a lovely deep golden color. Sweetie had some too and liked it (although he had steak and salad with it). Tomorrow the rest of the squash will morph into butternut squash soup.

We also had a delightful dessert...tipsy parson...but I'll post about that later.

To make the 'tenderloin', choose a butternut squash with a long neck part. Mine was almost all neck, with very little in the small rounded bottom part but seeds. Since that neck part is dense, it took a little longer for the initial baking. I put the whole squash in the fridge overnight Wednesday night and finished the dish about forty-five minutes before dinner time on Thursday. The skin was easy to remove, the seasonings were easy, too, and it browned fairly quickly in my cast iron skillet. I roasted it for 30 minutes, which heated it through just right and allowed the crust/skin with the seasonings to brown a bit more.
Here is the neck peeled and ready to season, with the top inch and lower seedy part in the background.

The originator of the recipe served their squash with peas on the side and what looked like a mushroom gravy. I just dressed my slices with some plain yogurt and that worked well. Would have done the mushroom thing, but I made mushroom gravy last night for some pasts, so didn't want it again.

Do give this recipe a try if you enjoy butternut squash. You'll be glad you did.


Butternut Squash Tenderloin
by 100% Esselstyn Nutrition Forum

A whole butternut squash (preferably with a long neck), weights vary
4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon ground sage
1 tablespoon onion powder (I omitted this as I had none)
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, ground (I used less)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (I used cayenne pepper for some pep)

Preheat over to 200 degrees c/180 degrees c fan (or 400 degrees F/350 degrees F convection)

Place the whole squash, skin and all, on a baking sheet. Roast until the squash is 95% cooked (approximately 45-60 minutes, depending on size). (I used foil under my squash on the baking sheet.)

Check the squash is cooked by inserting a skewer about three inches from the stem. When it can penetrate in and out through the width easily, it is done.

Remove from the oven and let it cool for 30-45 minutes, to finish carry over cooking. (Doing this the day before saves time.)

With a sharp knife, cut off the top and tail of the squash, including the bottom section wher the seeds are. you want to leave the long neck (tenderloin) whole for roasting.

Stand the squash on one end and carefully peel/cut away the skin.

Place the peeled squash in a large bowl or baking sheet, then evenly apply the seasonings to the entire squash.

Heat a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Add water carefully and add the squash and pan fry, turning to ensure that all sides are browned.

In the same pan (or transfer to a baking sheet) roast for an additional 20 minutes. Serve with green veggies for contrast.


Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple minutes before planting, slicing and enjoying.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A Crown for the Babes



A little late, but still close to the middle of November, here is my version of the beautiful Danish Crown challenge for the month brought to us by the talented Kitchen of the Month Cathy of Bread Experience. Having recently spent far too much time with onions for my onion dip appetizer, I went with a holiday version that is sweeter, with a filling that has dried fruits and nuts and no dairy.

This is a lovely dough although a little soft for holding the fillings in. The results are dramatic but easier to accomplish than you might think, so consider being a Buddy this month. Bake the bread (I'm including both the original challenge recipe and my variation) and send an email to Cathy. She'll include you in the round-up and send you a Buddy badge for your blog. Be sure to include a photo, too. Deadline is usually the 29th of the month.

Not interested in being a Buddy, but still want to make the recipe? Go for it! This would make a delightful bread for Thanksgiving. The savory version would be amazing with full flavored cheeses and the sweet version with anything from eggnog to hot tea.

Be sure to check out the gorgeous breads made by the other Babes who baked this month.


November challenge: Sourdough Savory Danish Crown

Adapted from Bread - The breads of the world and how to bake them at home by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter

Makes: 1 Crown Loaf

Dough:
·        260 grams + 30 grams unbleached all-purpose flour + more for sprinkling
·        65 grams whole grain rye
·        1 tsp sea salt
·        3 Tbsp + 1 stick butter, softened
·        50 grams sourdough starter, recently fed, active (100% hydration)  or ¾-ounce fresh yeast *
·        ½ cup lukewarm water
·        ½ cup lukewarm milk (I used almond milk)
·        1 egg, lightly beaten or 2 ½ tsp / 8 grams ground flaxseed meal + 3 Tbsp / 40 grams water (whisk; allow to gelatinize)

Filling:
·        2 Tbsp oil
·        2 medium onions, finely chopped
·        ¾ cup fresh bread crumbs or ½ cup dried
·        ¼ cup ground almonds or almond meal
·        ½ cup freshly grated or dried Parmesan cheese
·        1 egg, lightly beaten, divided or ½ Tbsp. chia seeds + 1 ½ - 2 Tbsp water (stir; allow to gelatinize)
·        Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Topping:
·        1 Tbsp. sesame seeds (I used sunflower seeds)
·        1 Tbsp. freshly ground Parmesan (I used dried)
·        ½ beaten egg from above or 1 tsp. corn starch + enough water to make thin glaze

Using yeast instead of sourdough:

If you choose to use yeast instead of sourdough, reduce the proofing time to about 1 hour for the bulk ferment in the bowl and 30 minutes for the final ferment. You may also need to reduce the milk/water mixture to a scant cup.

Directions:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and salt.  Rub in the 3 tablespoons of butter.

In a separate bowl, mix together the sourdough and milk/water mixture using a Danish dough whisk or wooden spoon. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix using a Danish dough whisk or wooden spoon or spatula until thoroughly combined.  Switch to a bowl scraper if necessary. 

Cover the bowl and allow the dough to autolyse (rest) for 20 – 30 minutes before adding additional flour. 

After the autolyse, add 30 grams of flour, if necessary.  The dough will be a little sticky, but resist the urge to add more flour until the stretch and fold stage.

Let the dough proof for about 4-6 hours at room temperature. Stretch and fold the dough every 45 minutes for the first 2.25 hours.  To perform the stretch and fold, remove the dough to a work surface sprinkled with flour, and stretch and fold the dough onto itself from all corners.  Do this 3 times.

The dough can probably be rolled and baked at this point, but I found it benefited from a cold ferment in the refrigerator.  I would let it cold ferment for a few hours at least.

After letting the dough proof at room temperature for about 4.25 hours, I covered the bowl tightly and placed it in the refrigerator.  About 44 hours later, I continued with the process (almost 2 days).

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to warm up slightly on a floured surface.

Roll out into an oblong about ½-inch thick.  Dot half (½ stick) of the remaining butter over the top two-thirds of the rolled dough.  Fold the bottom third up and the top third down, and then seal the edges. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the process with the remaining ½ stick of butter.  Fold and seal the dough as before.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap, bees wrap, or a kitchen towel; let it rest for 15 minutes.

Turn the dough another 90 degrees.  Then roll and fold it as before without adding any butter.  Repeat the turn/fold process once more.  Wrap the dough in lightly oiled plastic wrap or bees wrap sprinkled with flour. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the onions. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the onions for 10 minutes until soft and golden.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs, almonds, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Add half the beaten egg, if using, or all of the gelatinized chia seeds to the onion/bread crumb mixture and bind together.

Roll the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle measuring 22x9 inches.  Spread the filling over the dough to within ¾ inch of the edges. Roll up like a Swiss roll from one of the long sides.  Cut the dough in half lengthwise using a sharp knife.  Braid the logs together with the cut sides up and shape into a ring. 

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap or bees wrap and let rise for 1-2 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. 

It was a little tricky braiding the two dough pieces so it might be helpful to place the cut logs in the refrigerator a little while before braiding them and forming the ring.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Brush the remaining beaten egg or the cornstarch wash over the dough.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds (or the seeds of your choice) and Parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden.  Transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool.  Cut into slices.


Elle's version: Fruit and Nut Danish Crown

Adapted from Bread - The breads of the world and how to bake them at home by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter

Makes: 1 Crown Loaf

Dough:
·        260 grams + 30 grams unbleached all-purpose flour + more for sprinkling
·        65 grams whole grain wheat flour
·        1 tsp sea salt
·        3 Tbsp + 1 stick non-dairy margarine, softened
·     1/4 oz dry yeast 
·        ½ cup lukewarm water
·        ½ cup lukewarm milk (I used soy creamer)
·       
Filling:
½ Tbsp lemon zest
½ teaspoon cake spice or your favorite spice mixture
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup non-dairy margarine
·       ½ cup pecans, finely chopped
      ½ cup chopped dates & 2 tablespoons rum
      ½ cup mixed candied fruits (fruit cake mix)

Topping:
·        1 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
·        beaten egg 

Using yeast instead of sourdough:
 To use yeast instead of sourdough, reduce the proofing time to about 1 hour for the bulk ferment in the bowl and 30 minutes for the final ferment. You may also need to reduce the milk/water mixture to a scant cup.

Directions:
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and salt.  Rub in the 3 tablespoons of non-dairy margarine.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry yeast and milk/water mixture using a Danish dough whisk or wooden spoon. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix using a Danish dough whisk or wooden spoon or spatula until thoroughly combined.  Switch to a bowl scraper if necessary. 

Cover the bowl and allow the dough to autolyse (rest) for 20 – 30 minutes before adding additional flour. 

After the autolyse, add 30 grams of flour, if necessary.  The dough will be a little sticky, but resist the urge to add more flour until the stretch and fold stage.

Let the dough proof for about 1 hour at room temperature. Stretch and fold the dough every 15 minutes. To perform the stretch and fold, remove the dough to a work surface sprinkled with flour, and stretch and fold the dough onto itself from all corners.  Do this 3 times.

The dough can probably be rolled and baked at this point, but I found it benefited from a cold ferment in the refrigerator.  I would let it cold ferment for a few hours at least. I fermented mine overnight. That's when I also marinated the dates in the rum in a mug.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to warm up slightly on a floured surface.

Roll out into an oblong about ½-inch thick.  Dot half (½ stick) of the remaining non-dairy margarine (in the dough section) over the top two-thirds of the rolled dough.  Fold the bottom third up and the top third down, and then seal the edges. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the process with the remaining ½ stick of butter.  Fold and seal the dough as before.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap, bees wrap, or a kitchen towel; let it rest for 15 minutes. (I chilled mine 30 minutes at this point because the day was very warm.)

Turn the dough another 90 degrees.  Then roll and fold it as before without adding any non-dairy margarine.  Repeat the turn/fold process once more.  Wrap the dough in lightly oiled plastic wrap or bees wrap sprinkled with flour. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the filling. Stir together in a small bowl combine the zest, cake spice and brown sugar. Drain the date/rum mixture, discarding the liquid.

Roll the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle measuring 22x9 inches.  Spread the butter mixture over the dough to within an inch of the edges. Sprinkle butter evenly with the brown sugar mixture, then scatter evenly the chopped pecans. Then scatter the candied fruit mixture over the dough to within ¾ inch of the edges. Roll up like a Swiss roll from one of the long sides.  Cut the dough in half lengthwise using a sharp knife.  Braid the logs together with the cut sides up and shape into a ring. 

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap or bees wrap and let rise for 1-2 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. 

It was a little tricky braiding the two dough pieces so it might be helpful to place the cut logs in the refrigerator a little while before braiding them and forming the ring. This is a soft dough, so a fair amount of filling fell out, but I probably overfilled it anyway.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Brush the remaining beaten egg  over the dough.  Sprinkle with sunflower seeds.  

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden.  Transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool.  Cut into slices.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Triple Onion Dip


Impossible that it is already Nov. 17th. Somehow I thought I had a few days left to make the Bread Baking Babes bread...will do it tomorrow if I can. This has been a crazy month with too much travel and doctor's appointments (routine) and dentist appointments (not routine) and there is a big event on Wednesday and yesterday was a retirement party...so I made a delicious dip but not the bread. Just glad that I don't have to host Thanksgiving this year! I will make the dip again for Sweetie though.

The holidays are upon us. Still seems too soon, but I guess if Christmas decorations are showing up in stores before Halloween these days, it's not too surprising that Thanksgiving will be gone in a flash. Still, we usually need things to serve our near and dear ones on turkey day, including old favorites.

Does someone in your family love the dip made with onion soup mix and sour cream? I've got a recipe for a dip that has a taste quite similar, but made from scratch...fresh onion, leek and shallot instead of that 'what ingredients are in this packet anyway?' dry soup mix. Instead of sour cream and mayo, we substitute slightly healthier Greek yogurt. This dip tastes very familiar with potato chips, but just as delicious with baby carrots, celery sticks, snow peas and red pepper strips. I won't lie and tell you that it is quick and easy, but I assure you that once you try this you'll never go back to the soup mix version. If you are bringing it to a party, remember to bring breath mints, too. This wonderful triple onion dip has a true onion flavor...big time! I saved about a tablespoon of the onion mixture to put in the center as garnish, but that's optional.

Today was really beautiful here with sunny skies and brilliant color on the trees because it has been getting cold enough at night for good fall color. I was able to find some time to start cleaning up my vegetable/flower garden of old squash plants and morning glories that had gone to seed. Grateful that I have the energy and strength to do gardening and pulling and pruning and lifting...just wish I had a little more. Soon (in a day or two) I should have a post for you of a delicious crown bread, then another post a few days later...or by the weekend... of a main dish salad perfect for friends and family who have or choose to eat gluten free, dairy free, egg free, low salt, vegan. I'm preparing ten of them for the event on Wednesday and I'll be prepping for them Tuesday. Hope our power company doesn't turn off our power. Tough to roast veggies in the quantities I need over the BBQ!

So here is the delicious, fairly healthy three onion dip from Feed Me Phoebe blog. Thanks Phoebe!


Healthy French Onion Dip with Leeks and Shallots
from #feedmephoebe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and diced
1 large leek, green and white parts only, halved and thinly sliced
2 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 cup plain Greek yogurt, preferably full fat
1/2 teaspoon sea salt


In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Saute' the onion, leeks and shallots in the oil about 7 minutes, stirring often, until translucent and beginning to brown. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until dark and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add the tamari or soy sauce and continue to cook for 2 minutes to evaporate the liquid.



In a medium mixing bowl combine the onion mixture, the Greek yogurt and the salt. Stir well. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Use at once or chill. Return to room temperature to serve.

Serve with chips or crudites.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Return To Baking


When last we 'spoke', the power had been shut off and I was planning on camping at home. Wrong...before I knew it I was evacuating from my home at 4 in the morning with Sweetie and Pi dog and our dear friend from Healdsburg who had evacuated to us the previous night. Off we drove to San Francisco to stay with Sweetie's sister and brother-in-law. Power was still off, but a public safety neighbor who had to stay in the area kept the generator for the fridge going at intervals while we were gone, so no food lost, just sleep.

Waking up to smoke apparently sets me off. I wasn't a good camper and felt very stressed even though the likelihood of the fire making it to our home was slim. Our time in San Francisco was as lovely as possible with good food and company. Pi was a very good dog and even seemed to like the trip. We returned home as soon as the evacuation was lifted even though we were still without power except for what the generator provided. Back to camping.

Before the power was back on I took off to Portland for a planned vacation where I would meet up with three other women, including my daughter, and we would celebrate Halloween together, get dressed up, and hand out a ton of candy to little kids. It was just the kind of fun I needed to bring back my sense of humor. Fortunately the power had been restored before I returned home, so all I had to do once home was put away all the Kincade wildfire supplies and get on with life.

Of course that 'getting on with' included baking. Yesterday I made some chocolate chip pumpkin bread for a meeting that was scheduled for this morning (and had been canceled last week due to the fire) and then I made cookies. When in doubt, make cookies!

This recipe was given to me years ago by my friend Jeanne. She died last year and her birthday was during the evacuation, so it seems fitting to bake these in her memory. She was the best baker I ever met...anything she baked was always perfect and baking seemed to be almost effortless on her part. These cookies are pretty easy, full of spices and raisins and nuts, with the deep undertone of good coffee. The glaze on the top no only makes them pretty, but it adds to the coffee flavor.

These are fairly thin cookie bars, but moist. The batter is usually curdled once you add the coffee to the butter mixture, but it turns out just fine once the other ingredients are added. Once these are baked, cooled and glazed, I cut the bake into quarters and remove the quarters from the pan to cut the bars on a cutting board. You can also cut them in the pan and then use an offset spatula to remove them from the pan. Here they are baked but not yet glazed.

x

Leaving Saturday to fly to Portland again, this time to help a friend who has had eye surgery (different friend than Halloween). I feel lucky to have so many Portland and Oregon friends since it is a lovely city and state. Sweetie will again be home with our dog and keeping the household going. He has lots of projects to get things ship shape for the rain, which we hope will be coming soon.


Frosted Coffee Bars
From Jeanne Nahmens
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup strong coffee, cooled
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
2 tablespoons half and half
2 tablespoons brewed coffee, cooled
enough confectioners to make a glaze, about 1 cup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Blend together the butter, brown sugar and egg. Add the coffee and mix to incorporate.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to butter mixture and blend.

Add the raisins and nuts and stir to combine.

Turn batter into a greased and floured 9” x 13” pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until bars start pulling away from the side and are golden brown.

Let cool and then frost with a glaze made by combining the half and half, coffee, and powdered sugar.

Cut into bars to serve.

Makes 18 long bars or 36 smaller squares

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Autumn Smoke


I remember autumns in my childhood when the whole neighborhood was smoky because we and our neighbors would rake up the leaves that had fallen from the trees and (after some fun jumping in the piles of leaves) would get rid of them by burning them. That ended after a while because there was concern for air quality, so the leaves were raked to the road and the county came around with trucks which had a hose for sucking them up and taking them to the landfill. Here in the North Bay we never had that and leaves could be bagged up and taken to the compost area of the dump, but we never burned them. Times have changed...we have autumn smoke now. For the third year in a row we have autumn smoke but this time it's not from gathered leaves, but due to wildfires and structure fires.

A couple of days ago a major fire started near Geyserville, about 30 miles north of here. Due to winds coming from the east, it quickly grew and doubled in size in less than 24 hours. Although the fire itself moved toward the north, we are getting the smoke. My heart goes out not only to the Geyserville folks who are at risk and have lost homes and vineyards, but to the residents of Santa Rosa. Many of them were evacuated, lost homes, lost lives and everything really in the Tubbs fire that also roared out of nowhere during an event with strong winds from the east. It's been two years since that terrible time and many are just now getting into their rebuilt homes. How scary to know that it can happen again.

Today our local power company will be shutting off power to most of our area because a similar wind event, coming from the eastern land mass, so hot and dry, will be gusting to 80 miles per hour. We've learned to be flexible since plans made often get canceled due to smoky air and/or no power. Our power will be out this time, but we are relatively safe from harm being in the western part of the county (and being next to a fire station I guess). Sweetie says it will be camping out at home. We have a generator for the well and a small one for keeping things in the fridge cold. I have a strong LED lantern and some good books.

Please send good thoughts to our Sonoma County friends and neighbors who are dealing with loss of power, extra smoke in the air, loss of business and wages (and school during the work week), fear of the next thing. This is the new normal for us. Power again sometime Monday if we are lucky.

Yes, we have a go bag ready, just in case...

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Warm Spices in a Crinkle Cookie


Now that the weather has finally taken a turn towards cooler temperatures, I find myself thinking about using the warm spices of fall and winter - cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, pepper, allspice - and so I was thrilled to find a recipe in a magazine I took out of the library recently that uses a lot of those. The magazine is the Martha Stewart Living magazine from December 2018 and the cookies are Gingerbread-Espresso Crinkle Cookies. I think that it was the addition of the espresso that caught my attention. I'd never thought of adding it, but it seems right and did, indeed, add a rich deep note to these gingery cookies. The second reason I decided to make them was that Sweetie loves anything with molasses and these cookies have both brown sugar and liquid molasses in them.


These are crinkle cookies, meaning that you roll the dough in balls and roll the balls in sugar, as shown above. When baked the cookies have grown a bit, so the sugar gets sort of cracked and there are lovely fissures of cookies and areas covered with sugar between. For this recipe you roll the dough in both granulated sugar and confectioners' sugar. Just remember that confectioners' sugar is the glitter of the culinary world...it seems to go everywhere while you are working with it! The cookies aren't too sweet, even with all that sugar coating and the texture is crisp on the outside and slightly chewy in the center. I gave some to my neighbor and she enjoyed them in the morning with coffee.

You do need to start theses cookies at least four hours before you plan to bake them, but the dough can also sit in the fridge for three days, or you can freeze it for up to a month, making them a nice thing to have on hand for when a yen for cookies hits. They're not refrigerator cookies exactly, but the time in the fridge lets the flavors meld. You can shape and sugar a tray of cookie in about the time it takes to preheat your oven and then shape the next cookie sheet worth while the first one cooks, or you can bake two sheets at once, but be sure to turn the sheets around and switch the rack they are on about half way through baking.

These are pretty enough for a tea party, but simple enough for everyday eating...ready to bake?


Gingerbread-Espresso Crinkle Cookies
Martha Stewart Living Magazine, Dec 2018
Makes about 30 cookies

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (from a 1-inch piece)
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg
granulated sugar (about 1/2 cup) and confectioner's sugar (about 1 cup) for rolling

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, espresso powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.

In a mixer bowl beat the butter with the grated ginger and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses; beat until combined. Add egg and beat until combined. Scrape bowl and beaters and beat to combine. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating only until combined with no dry flour remaining.

Transfer the dough to plastic wrap, pat into a disk, wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days (or freeze up to 1 month; thaw in the refrigerator before using).

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with racks in upper and lower thirds if baking two sheets at a time.

Place granulated sugar in one shallow bowl and confectioners' sugar in another.

Using a 1-oz scoop or a tablespoon measure, scoop rounded spoons of dough, roll into balls and put into the bowl of granulated sugar. Roll around to coat, then transfer to the bowl of confectioners' sugar. Turn dough balls to fully coat. Balls should be heavily coated; don't shake off excess. If dough becomes sticky as it warms, dust your hands with confectioners' sugar and continue to make balls of dough. Once each dough ball is heavily coated with confectioners' sugar, place it on the prepared sheet, leaving 2 inches between balls.

Bake, rotating sheets and rack positions once halfway through, until cookies spread and surfaces appear cracked, 15 - 17 minutes (I found that closer to 12 minutes was sufficient). Let cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, between sheets of parchment, up to 5 days.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Babes Bake Apple Bread


I missed making the Bread Baking Babes bread last month, but this month I finished the loaf yesterday, just in time to post today. Not only that, but it's also World Bread Day so there is likely to be lots of great bread around the blogosphere today.

Our Kitchen of the Month Kelly of A Messy Kitchen gave us a wonderful recipe for October; Apple Bread. You start with a poolish and the next day make the dough, let it rise, work the sauteed apples into the dough and shape it and then bake it at a pretty high temperature to begin with, then at a lower temperature to finish. The result is an absolutely delicious bread, flavored with apple, faintly sweet and perfect for eating plain, toasted, or as a sandwich bread.

In making this, I followed the poolish part exactly, altered the dough part by using Irish whole meal wheat flour instead of the rye flour. I also worked the sauteed and cooled diced apples into the dough before the first rise because I needed to go to bed, then let it all rise slowly in the cool night air in the sunspace overnight, then shaped it, let it rise and baked it today. Sweetie was quite taken with this bread so I know I'll make it again. I used Gravenstein apples from our trees for the apple part and brandy instead of Calvados. See the little apple pieces in the bread?



Do give this one a try...you'll be glad you did. To be a Buddy, bake the bread, take a photo and email Kelly with a brief description of your bake and be sure to include the photo and she will send you a Buddy badge and include you in the roundup.

Check out the apple breads that the other Babes have made, too. Sure to be inventive!

I used this recipe which makes 1 good sized loaf.


Apple Bread with Cider and Calvados
makes 1 loaf
This is from  Artisan Breads: Practical Recipes and Detailed Instructions for Baking the World's Finest Loaves, by Jan Hedh.


Poolish:
150 g strong white flour (bread flour), preferably stoneground (I used all purpose)
0.7 g (¼ tsp) instant yeast
150 g dry cider (I used apple juice)

Add the flour and yeast to a bowl and mix thoroughly.  Whisk the cider into the flour/yeast mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave at cool room temperature overnight, 12-16 hours.  Poolish will be bubbly and should have risen and fallen slightly in the center when ready.
Final dough:
300 g strong white flour (bread flour), preferably stoneground
50 g whole meal (dark) rye flour, preferably stoneground (I used 50g Irish wholemeal wheat flour)
0.9 g (¼+ tsp) instant yeast
150 g water (I added an additional 10g water because it seemed dry)
9 g (1½ tsp) sea salt

Mix the yeast and flours thoroughly in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Heat the water to lukewarm (approximately 35°C/95°F).  Add the water and poolish to the flour/yeast mixture and knead on low for 13 minutes.  Add the sea salt and knead for 7 more minutes at med/low speed.

Cover with plastic wrap or a shower cap and leave in a warm place (ideally at 24ºC, 75ºF) for about 90 minutes, until doubled in size. Meanwhile, prepare the apple mixture to give the apples time to cool before you need to use them.

Filling and baking:

Apple Mixture:
5 g (1 tsp) unsalted butter
150 g cored, peeled and diced eating apple
5 g (1 tsp) soft dark brown sugar
25 g calvados (I used brandy)
Heat up the butter in a pan, add the diced apple and then sprinkle over the sugar.  Saute until golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Pour over the calvados and continue cooking until the pan is dry.  Set aside to cool.

Tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly. Add the cooled diced apple and fold it into the dough.  Do this in stages to ensure that the apple is mixed in as evenly as possible.  Shape the dough into an oblong loaf round and place it in a lightly floured lined proving basket or floured cloth.  Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for 75-90 minutes until doubled in size.

Add a baking stone to an oven and preheat to 250ºC (475ºF) for at least 30 minutes.  Cut up a thin apple slice for the top of the bread.  Gently turn the loaf onto a parchment lined baking sheet or peel and gently press the apple slice in the middle.  Slide the loaf onto the baking stone.  Heavily spritz your oven with a water spray or cover the loaf with an inverted roasting pan sprayed with water. (I skipped the spritz and the covering, although I did bake on a baking stone.) Bake for 15 minutes, turning down the temperature to 200ºC (400ºF) after 5 minutes.  Remove roasting pan and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes until the bread is golden and hollow sounding when thumped on the bottom and has reached an internal temperature of about 205ºF.  Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

It's Finally Pumpkin Time


I know we still have a bit more daylight savings time to go before it really gets dark early in the day and early in the evening, but you can tell the days are getting shorter, the leaves are turning colors, and fall has finally arrived. We are looking at high temperatures in the low to mid-70s for the next week and it's supposed to be in the 30s tonight! Love the chill.

Pumpkin spice this and that has become very popular the last few years, but I still like good old fashioned pumpkin pie. I made one a few days ago and we had slices for dinner dessert and then slices for breakfast in the morning...decadent!

This recipe might be even better, because these treats are cut in bars and are very portable and shareable. They are baked in a 9" x 13" pan, so there are plenty to take to a pot luck and still have a few for the morning in the fridge. Be careful to watch toward the end of baking because they burn easily. I let mine bake a minute or two too long, but they still were delicious with a buttery shortbread crust and true pumpkin and spice filling, plus crunchy pecans on top.


Pumpkin Pie Bars
from Very Best Baking
12 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned or instant oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (I had a little extra pumpkin since I was using up leftovers from a larger can, so if you have more, add it. I added an extra 5 oz.)
1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
2 large eggs

2 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice OR 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cloves and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

COMBINE flour, oats, brown sugar and butter in small mixer bowl. Beat at low speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until crumbly. Press on bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

BAKE for 15 minutes.

COMBINE granulated sugar, pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs and pumpkin pie spice in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes; pour over crust.

BAKE for 20 minutes. Combine pecans and brown sugar in small bowl. Sprinkle pecan topping over filling. Continue baking for 15 to 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Favorites



We are coming up on the 13th anniversary of the beginning of this blog.Other than enjoying my marriage, being a Mom,and cooking and baking, that's probably the longest I've done one particular thing that gives me great pleasure.  One of the great things about blogging, especially blogging mainly about food, is that things are constantly changing, so it never gets boring.

You may have noticed that I post less than I used to. Part of that is that everything, I mean everything, takes longer as you get older. Writing, putting together the recipe, adding the photo, making it personal...all of these things are essential to good blogging and they all take longer. The other thing is that I've already posted so many of the things that I cook and bake day in and day out. I'm using the blog as a sort of recipe box, so I want the posts to be about new things that I've made.

Recently I was talking with my older sister and younger brother during a call made to celebrate his birthday. We were talking about the possibility of a new Family Cookbook with contemporary recipes. One or the other of them suggested that I should do a cookbook using recipes from this blog. Since there are well over 1,200 recipes by now, figuring out which ones to include is a tall order!

So, dear reader, in honor of the upcoming 13th blog birthday, do you have a recipe that you find you make often or at least more than once, or that you've only made once but really enjoyed? Next Sister Down like the Delicata and Butternut Squash with Olive Oil and Maple From September 2017 (photo at top of post), although I think she made another version with Moroccan spices. I often make the Creamy Coleslaw Dressing during the summer.


We're almost to the time of year for me to make Quince Jelly, another favorite, especially for gift giving. Now you get the idea...find a favorite recipe and tell me in the comments what it is. If you like you can also tell me why you like it; that would be wonderful!

Do reply if you can...it will be very meaningful to me to see what you like. The month and year where you found it in the blog is helpful if you know that, but if you don't just comment anyway.

In case you were figuring that I've been lying in bed, recovering from surgery and eating bon bons, that time is over...thank heavens. This week I've been working on painting the bedroom walls in the farmhouse as part of getting ready for the holidays. One more wall to paint and then the trim work to do. After that the floors need a good cleaning and then we can add some furniture and bedding. Sweetie is working on replacing a broken window in the little room off the front room (which may eventually be a walk-in closet or perhaps an office) so eventually I'll have trim to paint, inside and out, for that window. Since I love painting I'm a happy camper right now.

I'd appreciate your healing thoughts for my older brother and my brother-in-law who are both caught up in the medical whirlwind right now. Thanks!

Hoping to hear from you...be bold...commenting is fun and you may discover a new recipe to try if enough people comment with their favorite recipe from the blog.

XO, Elle