Saturday, December 08, 2018

Baked Quiche with Chicken and Broccoli


There is something about December that pushes me to bake. Although it's weeks away from Christmas, we have started into the holiday party season, plus I'm doing lunch with friends from time to time and want to have a little something sweet to give them. Then there are the occasions when my dairy allergy gets in the way and it's more comfortable to bring my own lunch instead of expecting the hostess to cook another entree just for me. The added bonus is that what I make is also available for another meal with Sweetie.

Quiche is nothing new. I've probably posted two or three before this and each one is just a little different from the others. This time I was baking it to bring a slice to a meeting where quiche was on the menu. Unfortunately it was Costco quiche, which has milk and cheese in it. Mine was baked with no cheese and with unsweetened soy creamer in place of the milk, so it worked for my dietary needs.

Quiche is really a versatile pie...you can put almost anything savory in it that works well with custard. Some classics include spinach and Swiss cheese with mushrooms and leeks like HERE, bacon and Swiss cheese, onion, mushroom and cheddar cheese, vegetables with onion and garlic and herbs, ham and cheddar, ham and chard and jack cheese, broccoli and blue cheese and bacon...you get the idea. Most do have cheese, but it really isn't necessary as long as you make sure that you have other ingredients included are that a good strong flavor. In some ways you can use things that you might include in an omelette.

For this quiche we had onions and celery cooked in a little olive oil, broccoli, and small cubes of cooked chicken thigh. For seasonings we had poultry seasoning, salt and pepper, plus a little thyme.
It was delicious and filling and very easy to make. Since I use the ready-made rounds of unbaked crusts found in the refrigerated section of our store (Pillsbury ReadyCrusts), it all goes together fairly quickly. You can also use your favorite pie dough recipe for the crust...it will probably be better, but not by much.

This is a delicious version...packed with veggies and chicken with it all held together with a delicate and flavorful custard. It would be a handy thing to have in the fridge over the holidays, or perfect for your own dinner (or lunch) when you have had a busy day.


Chicken and Broccoli Quiche

1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cooked chicken thighs, skinned, boned, and cubed into bite sized pieces  

½ head broccoli, thawed, cut into florets
1 prepared Quiche crust (recipe follows)
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups whole milk or nut milk or creamer
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet and sauté’ the onion and celery until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes, stirring often. Cool.

Spread the onion mixture over the bottom of the quiche crust.  Arrange the chicken evenly over the vegetable mixture and then place the broccoli florets in a pattern over the chicken.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Add the salt, pepper, and thyme and poultry seasoning. Pour this mixture slowly over the ingredients in the quiche crust.

Place quiche in prepared oven and bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until just set and lightly browned on top.

Serve warm. Serves 6 – 8

Crust - Ready made and made from scratch versions
I made this the night before the luncheon, so making a crust from scratch was not an option. (The ‘from scratch’ recipe is below my substitution.)

I used Pillsbury ReadyCrust. One round was fitted into a 9-inch pie pan, the edges were crimped, a round of parchment paper was put inside and dry beans were used as pie weights. Crust was baked in a 450 degree F. oven for about 10 minutes. Pie pan was put on a cooling rack, parchment and beans were removed, and crust was left to cool.

Official Shell for Quiche1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cold shortening, cut into small pieces
½ cup (1 stick) frozen butter, cut into small pieces
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup cold water
Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until dough holds together and starts to forma a ball, about 25 seconds. Do not over mix.

Remove dough and shape into a 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place disk on a lightly floured surface, and with a lightly floured rolling pin roll dough from the center out to the edges, changing the direction with each stroke, until the circle is 1/8 inch thick and about 1 inch larger than the pie plate. Fold dough in half and transfer to pie plate. Press gently to remove air bubbles. Fold edge under and flute. Do not prick dough for a quiche because the filling will seep under the shell. To partially bake the shell for a quiche, bake it for 8 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack. It should be slightly warm when filling is added.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

December Is For Baking


Sorry I've been away from my desk, but things have been busy. We've replaced some ancient shutters on the farmhouse and removed a door that was impacted by having shrubbery too close for years. A short term closing up with plywood was necessary since we're getting rain tonight and tomorrow, but soon there will be a new door...this is the farmhouse, too.

December started with with baked apples. I baked six of them, but they were small, so yesterday I baked six more. I'm using a nice dark red apple. I bought a bunch so can't remember the variety, but I think it is a Arkansas Black or similar heirloom. Nice, crisp apple with some tartness and good juiciness, plus it keeps it's shape pretty well when cooked. Unfortunately the skin gets a bit tough with cooking, but otherwise it's perfect for this recipe.


When you bake these you first remove the stem end and the core area that holds the seeds, but you leave the bottom intact. That cavity formed by removing the core is filled with a cinnamon-sugar mixture, chopped walnuts, raisins, and a bit more cinnamon on top. With a little water in the baking dish, the apple goodness gets sealed in with aluminum foil and it's baked until the apples are tender.


First of all, your house will smell wonderful with all that cinnamon perfuming the air. Secondly, this is a fairly healthy dessert or snack (or breakfast which is how Sweetie enjoyed one this morning) and it is enhanced by the addition of milk, cream, whipped cream, ice cream, or custard. Nut milk works, too. It's fine all by itself, but I think the dairy brings a lot to the party. It's quite delicious both warm and cold, especially if you like cinnamon.

You can use your favorite apple. Just make sure that they fit snugly in the pan or dish you bake them in. The timing can vary, too, depending on the apple used. I recommend checking after a half hour and then every ten minutes after until a knife inserted goes in easily and you find the interior tender.


Baked Apples

4-6 (or more) apples
1/2 cup sugar (brown, white or a mixture)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons raisins (I like golden raisins)
1/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

With a sharp paring knife, remove the stem end and core of each apple, making sure to remove all of the seeds. Be sure to leave the bottom 1/4 of the apple intact.

Place the apples in the baking pan or dish. They should be very close to each other. If not, adjust pan size so that they are. You may have to switch to another pan or baking dish.

Mix the sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. You can shake it together in a jar with a lid or in a plastic bag with a zip lock. Divide the cinnamon sugar mixture among the apples in the pan or dish.

Divide the chopped walnuts among the apples. Divide the raisins among the apples. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon over the raisins, dividing it among the apples.

Add the water and place foil over the baking pan or dish. Seal to the sides. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and check for tenderness. If needed, replace the foil and bake another 10 minutes. Check for tenderness.  If needed, replace the foil and bake another 10 minutes. Check for tenderness.  When apples are tender, remove the foil and let cool slightly in the pan.

Serve warm or cold, preferable with custard or cream or nut milk.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Sourdough


The first Christmas that our daughter was working for the Seahawks in Seattle we knew she wouldn't be able to get home for Christmas...sports and entertainment expect their people to work holidays. We decided that we would go to her instead, so we rented a room in a hotel not too far from where she was living. Being the traditionalist that I am I insisted on packing a box with our smallest ornaments and then we bought a tiny potted tree to put them on. I also brought Christmas stockings to put on either side of the tree, so we had a mini version of the Christmas decorations from home. I don't think that Sweetie cared one way or another, but it meant a lot to both me and Katherine.

While I had been in Seattle in the summer when she moved up and we took a road trip to move some of her things, we visited Macrina Bakery and I fell in love. Their baked goods are wonderful and the vibe was great, too. For the Christmas visit I ordered their cookie assortment ahead of time and when we picked that up we also bought some pastries for Christmas morning. Heavenly! At some point during the trip we also made it to Elliot Bay Books which is a famous bookstore in an old building. It is enchanting if you like bookstores & Sweetie and I both do. There, among other great books, I found the Macrina Bakery cookbook, which I promptly bought to take home.


One of the recipes that I found most interesting was how to make your own sourdough starter using organic grapes, preferably your own grapes, so that you get local wild yeasts into your starter. The grape skins collect the wild yeast and the crushed grapes impart an interesting flavor to the starter.

Unfortunately it was late December and the local grapes were gone until the next fall. You better believe that the next fall I was right there, checking the grapes at the foot of the driveway for ripeness, ready to make my starter.


Making a sourdough starter isn't difficult, but you have to follow the directions and feed it every day for 10 days. You also need to think of it as a benign pet...one that needs to be fed once a week forever. I kept mine going and happy for a couple of years but let it go when we left on a long trip. Then I made another starter the following fall and began again. I loved having the starter in the fridge because it made it so easy to bake bread and the bread had a lovely tang.



Right now I don't have a starter because a few months ago Sweetie asked me to severely curtail my baking so that he had fewer temptations while losing weight. Although I miss my favorite hobby, my own weight is dropping, so it's probably a good thing.

If you want to read how to make the Macrina-style grape-based sourdough starter, check the post HERE. King Arthur Flour also sells a kit for creating a starter and they have lots of recipes for using starters, too.

Once I had a starter going, it was easy to bake bread and fun to experiment with converting favorite bread recipes to sourdough versions. I got so carried away with baking bread that I started a new blog called Bread Baker's Dog so that this blog wouldn't become a bread blog but would stay a blog with lots of enthusiasms to explore. After a while keep two blogs going was exhausting, plus I started to be more moderate with my bread baking, so that blog is rarely used. I still love baking bread. The latest was another take on the Snowflake Bread from HERE. I used non-dairy butter and cinnamon sugar and brioche dough...it was wonderful. One day, hopefully soon, I'll get my index updated so that it will be easy to find the bread recipes. In the meantime, there are plenty to start with in the index. If you are viewing this on your phone or tablet, scroll to the bottom and click on View Web Version. That will give you the version with the index link (a photo of a set table with a russet table cloth) on the right hand side. There are over 1,000 recipes on the blog and at least 500 in the index.

This is the last November post. I've enjoyed sharing food memories with you and revisiting some of my favorite recipes, too. In December I'll probably return to doing one or two posts a week, but that doesn't mean I'm not O.K., just caught up in Christmas preparations like many folks. After all, cookies don't bake themselves! I can bake cookies because most of them will be given away as cookie assortments to neighbors and friends. Yay! Looking forward to baking again.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Playing Around With Gluten Free and Vegan



Short post today...don't feel all that well and didn't sleep well last night, but nothing serious, just stomach flu I suspect.

One of the ways I have been able to stretch my baking skills a bit is through exploring gluten free and vegan baking. Some experiments worked well, some were less successful.

Gluten Free Giant Party Cookies were a success! Recipe HERE. A Gluten Free Tart was also successful, after a little tinkering with the filling. Recipe HERE. The Gluten Free Sandwich Bread was better than the stuff in the grocery store, but still not a great bread. It's tough to get a true bread texture without gluten! Recipe is HERE.


Now a Vegan cookie is a wonderful thing. It's essential for people suffering from immune disease and from Lymes Disease, too. The owner of our gym, DeeDee Cool of Cool Fitness, hosted a gathering of Lymes Disease sufferers where they were given lots of information on nutrition and fitness and how that can help. For refreshments I provide a pumpkin cookie that was gluten free and vegan. It was also delicious and my own recipe. She was thrilled and so were the participants. Recipe HERE.


DeeDee collects turtles, a sort of emblem of going slow, which is the mantra of her fitness club. Here (and at the top) are some of her voluminous collections.





Do you collect things?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

No Cheese In This Quiche


So yesterday's playing around included a nice chicken and veggie quiche. Of course it is also a non-dairy quiche and I'll tell you how I did that.

But first I want to remember one of my favorite quiches...one I made when I came back from our first trip to Ireland. I really enjoyed that trip, but as a Californian I'm spoiled with the quantity and quality of vegetables available year round. It was still the tail end of winter when we were in Ireland, so there really weren't a large amount of fresh lettuces and greens, but there was some chard. When I baked the quiche I topped it with some chard leaves from the garden since my chard, growing here where winter can end as early as February (and it was May!), had gotten nicely leafy, so there was a lot of leaves to choose from. I also included bacon and Swiss cheese and evaporated milk. It was sublime and was eaten quickly at the potluck!

This time I again used the Pillsbury ReadyCrust pre-rolled pie crust sheet, and I blind-baked it, using my trusty lentils as pie weights. I put diced red pepper on the bottom and arranged steamed broccoli in a nice pattern over that, then put on the cooked and cubed chicken, tucking a bit under the broccoli stems. No cheese this time, but I did make the custard with eggs, soy creamer, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. I had it today for lunch and for dinner, both times with green salad that didn't include any romaine lettuce (which has been banned for a week by the FDA for some sort of illness it caused before the ban) but were both delicious and a nice complement to the soft quiche.



If you want to make your own quiche, you can find the one with bacon and chard HERE. If you want to make mine, dice about 1/4 cup red pepper for the bottom of a blind-baked and cooled crust, a half head or even less of broccoli, steamed and cooled makes the pattern and two chicken thighs, poached, cooled and cubed takes care of the chicken. A custard of 3 eggs and 1 1/2 cups soy creamer (plain) goes over the chicken and veggies and then sprinkle on salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to taste. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until the center is just set, about 30-45 minutes. Crust should be brown. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Sorry for the poor photography, but it's raining this week (Yay!) and so I'm only using indoor lighting and I was too tired after a full day of scholarship stuff to try to get a better photo. Just remember, the quiche was great!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Playing Around


Food memories include remembering cooking or baking something and being stoked about how it turned out. Fortunately that happens a lot. If I then post about it, it becomes something that I can return to and make again, using the post as a guideline if I include notes.

Today I returned to a couple of past recipes, but played around with them, changing the ingredients but not the basic recipe or techniques.


For dinner we had lamb meatballs, based on a post that included a recipe for turkey meatballs. I kept the proportions the same, but used ground lamb (grass fed from our grass!), onions and celery that had been sauteed, choppped parsley, and chopped fresh rosemary from our shrub. The rest was the same and I skipped any sauce.


They were great...moist and savory and fully lamb flavored and just a little crusty on the outside.


We also had delicata squash, cooked in the same method as THIS recipe, but with salt, pepper, brown sugar and fresh orange juice as the seasoning. No butternut squash or maple syrup, but I did use olive oil. As Sweetie has lost weight he has become more sensitive to spicy seasonings, so I skipped the usual cayenne pepper. It was still quite delicious, tender and slightly sweet. Top photo shows the nice caramelization from roasting. It was a nice counterpoint to the lamb and the zippy salad dressing on the green (butter lettuce and dark oak leaf lettuce...no romaine!) salad.

The third playing around I did was making a quiche for tomorrow. No photo...maybe tomorrow. Usually my quiches include chard or spinach or sometimes asparagus, but this time I included steamed broccoli florets. It also has cubed cooked chicken, diced red pepper, and sauteed onion, plus salt, pepper, and poultry seasonings, but no cheese. If you are looking for a recipe, it is based on the one HERE.

Do you play around with your favorite recipes to change them just a bit?

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Special Thanksgiving



This year we decided to return to the same rental house that we stayed in last Thanksgiving. It's a nice single story three bedroom in a quiet neighborhood about 10 minutes from where our daughter lives.
It has a great kitchen with an amazing array of everything needed to really cook, a table that has a set of pull out leaves, so you can seat at least 8 people, and, best of all, a wonderful backyard with grass, a BBQ, a large table with chairs and an umbrella, another seating area, and two propane heaters for when it gets chilly. We were blessed both years with great weather and were able to spend a lot of time out in the backyard.

This  year Thanksgiving was more special than usual. Randy, who co-owns the property with his partner Nathan, kindly called up on Wednesday evening to make sure that the oven was working properly because he hadn't checked and he knew that I wanted to roast a turkey the next day. If it hadn't worked that would have been a disaster. While the oven was heating up so we could make sure that it reached the needed temperature, I chatted with  Randy and then my daughter chatted with him, too. We had such a great time and he seemed like such an interesting guy (for instance, the kitchen is awesome because they used to live there and he is a chef who has opened and run many restaurants...how often does that happen?) that we invited them over the next morning for mimosas while the turkey was cooking. It wasn't clear if they were going to come, so I sort of forgot about it.

About 11 in the morning, with the turkey only about an hour away from being done, Randy and Nathan arrived. They had texted earlier to see if it was OK, but I was away from my phone and taking a nap. As soon as I woke and saw the message I texted and urged them to come. Before I had time to clue in the rest of the family, they were there, bringing roses for me and champagne for my daughter. What a lovely surprise!

They are both delightful men and we had a great time sitting out back in the sun and getting to know each other. The mimosas certainly helped, but we really did have a lot in common (they both grew up in and around Virginia as I did, my daughter worked in the past in food service, Randy and I love to cook, etc.) and so soon I invited them to stay for the turkey dinner. They had planned to eat at a restaurant that held a sentimental place in their hearts, but maybe the promise of homemade pecan pie did the trick.

We had such a wonderful meal. Randy saved the gravy after I over-boiled it and Nathan took a professional photo of a slice of the pie. He is brand manager of an important restaurant group and does their food styling and photography. His photo is at the top of the post, just to give you an idea of his talent. Conversation flowed and I feel like new friendships were made. Next time I'm down visiting Katherine I might be invited to Game Night. That would be great fun.

Hope that you had a Thanksgiving as special as mine was.

If you are interested in renting the house yourself, go on VRBO and type in Redondo Beach and look for Beach House.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Too Tired To Post Much



Road trips are tiring...and so is putting everything away, taking the suitcases up to the attic and clearing out the fridge since tomorrow is garbage day, and doing laundry...you get the idea.

Sweetie had the job of creating a rain barrier over the well to his train room because the drain isn't working and rain is expected in a few days. While we were gone about 4 inches of rain fell at home and that well flooded and water got into the train room, too. That took some clearing out as well. Fortunately the rain meant that I didn't have to water the garden.

I did make a nice green salad for our dinner, and steamed broccoli, and roast pork that we had frozen from last week, then thawed today and heated in the microwave at dinner time. That was about all tha I had energy to make. Sweetie was tired, too.

No actual food memories today. Hope to do better tomorrow!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Road Trip!


I think we may have brought everything but the kitchen sink, but we were ready for Thanksgiving with our daughter and Straight Shooter. Pi had a nice yard to hang out in and I had the challenge of roasting the turkey in a strange oven. Since I used a super-sized oven bag as I do each year it was fine, even though we ate about an hour later than I'd planned. Tomorrow I'll post about why Thanksgiving was so special this year.

Our neighbors have been watching our place and texted us today as we headed home that Sweetie's train room (where he put together train models and has a layout with a town and a mining operation and more) had flooded. Apparently our area had 3-4 inches of rain while we were gone. The drain was plugged with leaves knocked down by the rain. They pumped things out and set up a fan to begin drying things out. So thankful for great neighbors!

Road trips are another source of memories. My siblings and I made countless sandwiches for the various trips we took as a family growing up. Some were a relatively short drive to Izaak Walton, a low-key resort with a small lake where we could swim and Dad could fish. Some were longer like trips to Delaware or New Jersey to go to the beach, or to Williamsburg, VA to see the colonial town recreated with Rockefeller money.


We would set up a sort of assembly line with one person spreading on the mayo or peanut butter, the next adding the bologna or jelly, another putting the slices together and cutting them and wrapping them in waxed paper. It was sort of fun. Cookies would go in a tin and usually there would be carrot sticks and/or fruit like apples or grapes. Since I love picnics, this was part of the excitement for me. Sharing a station wagon with nine other people was less fun, but if we were going to the beach every
moment was worth it. I really love the beach!


For this road trip home we have some snacks like dried fruit and peanuts, but we'll just stop and get lunch along the way. Maybe a milkshake for Sweetie

Do you have any great road trip memories?

Friday, November 23, 2018

Lane Cake and Other Post-Thanksgiving Baking


Even though Thanksgiving is early this year, relatively speaking, the holiday season will be on us before we know it. There will be holiday parties as soon as Dec. 1st! This is also almost the last week to bake things that need time to mellow, like fruitcakes and pfeffernusse cookies.This is when I begin to plan what cookies I need to bake and when they need to be made, plus I check on my ingredients and buy fresh baking spices like cloves and allspice and cinnamon. For nutmeg I make sure that I have the nutmeg nuts to grate since I think freshly grated nutmeg can make all the difference in the final product.

My Mom used to put us to work the day after Thanksgiving creating all the various parts of the traditional Lane Cake. The cake layer were thin sponge ones with a fairly tight crumb. Between each layer and over the whole cake there was an eggy,  whiskey-rich  frosting that was chock full of freshly grated coconut, chopped pecans and chopped glace' red and green cherries and ground raisins. I remember that we used the food grinder to process the raisins and so they came out of it as you turned the handle like a long dark snake! It was a tricky frosting to make and sometimes was too thin, so every couple of days Mom would take the cake out of it's cake keeper and reapply the frosting that had slid down the sides. We kept the. Are on the unheated side porch. It was often colder than a refrigerator in the winter time. Eventually the frosting would stick and stay so by Christmas it was perfect. This was a rich cake and was served in thin slices on Christmas and through the rest of the holiday season.

A few years ago our niece Milly Molly Mandy worked out a more modern version that doesn't use those neon colored cherries but substitutes some nice Michigan cherries, among other things. Her sister made the cake the first year she was in SF and she proudly displays it above. I was thrilled!

I made Lane Cake myself once when the kids were little but I was the only one who enjoyed it and my hips didn't need that much rich sweet, so I never made it again. Our tradition has become my making a breakfast treat to go with a bowl of mixed fresh fruit and some coffee.  There will be photos on this later, but we are on the road again tomorrow, so no time today. I do miss Lane Cake & might make it again to share with neighbors and friends.

Do you make fruitcake or a special holiday treat that needs to be made ahead?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving


I wish each of you and your families a most Happy Thanksgiving. I'm very grateful for your loyal reading of this blog over the years and for the feedback and comments, too. May God bless you, each and every one.

Rosemary is for remembrance. Let's remember those who have played a role in our lives but who have gone, either through distance or death, and be grateful for those who were a blessing to us.


This photo shows my Mom,two younger sisters, me, my older sister & brother & my paternal grandmother. We are gathered around the Thanksgiving table. Earlier the three oldest children had walked around to Mrs, Goff's home where grandmother had her residence. We had escorted her to our house. Along the way we sang The Grandfather clock song, stopping when the song said that the clock stopped when the old man died. Sort of a grim song for a day of thanksgiving,  but we liked that song. It was a good 'marching' song.

After dinner we would walk her back or Dad would drive her home, depending on how late it was.

Today we are making our own memories. The pecan pie was out of the oven & the turkey was in by 8 am! Pi dog is really loving being here with us in SoCal instead of being left at home. I brought a bottle of Iron Horse Gratitude champagne to drink at dinner with the appetizers. There is more Sonoma Co wine for dinner itself. I suspect by the time we get to coffee & pie we will be very grateful, stuffed, and merry!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thankful For



Any time that I get caught up in caring too much about things, physical things like clothes or furniture or even my garden, I try to remind myself that none of that, while enjoyable, is as important as the people in our lives, and the ones who used to be in our lives but have died. I'm thankful for all the memories I have of those who have been a big part of my life.  I've been pretty fortunate to have parents who lived into their 80s and 90s and I had a good relationship with each. I've had good friends who lived long lives, too, but are gone now, some of them only recently.


My sweet sister Beth left us just a year ago and is still intensely missed.


Max, our son, of course, died much too young and I miss him every day. When we miss that person who is gone, sometimes there is a food memory that keeps them close.

Janna, a niece by marriage and a wonderful woman also left us much too soon due to cancer. She was a terrific cook and baker and if she hadn't live in southern CA most of the time I knew her I think we might have been closer. She did give me her recipe for biscotti and I enjoy making them at this time of year. They make wonderful Christmas gifts!

My Mom was also a fantastic cook and baker. I cherish her crescent cookie recipe. She baked them almost every year and sent them around the country to her scattered children. In the photo at the top she is finishing the baked cookies with a shower of powdered sugar.

Both recipes rely on nuts, so these are not the recipes for family or friends with nut allergies, but for everyone else I suspect that they will be one of the most memorable treats they might receive for Christmas. The crescent cookies recipe can be found HERE. There are other Christmas cookies, too.


Janna's Almond Biscotti

1 cup whole almonds
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Toast the almonds 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree F. oven. Let cool.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and eggs, adding eggs one at a time and beating well after each addition. Add almond extract with the last egg. Scrape sides and beater(s) as needed.
In another bowl stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and whole, toasted, nuts. Add this dry mixture to the egg mixture on low speed. Let mixer combine them until dough forms.

On a greased 12" x 15" baking sheet, use well-floured hands to pat dough into 2 flat loaves, about 3/4" thick.

Bake in 350 degree F. oven about 20 minutes, until browned at edges and springy to the touch. Let the loaves cool on the sheet until cool, then cut on the diagonal into long 1/2" slices.

Arrange slices on the baking sheet close together with a cut side down. Return baking sheet to oven and bake at 350 degrees F. until cookies are brown, 15-18 minutes longer.

Transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely. Serve or store airtight. These can be frozen for 3-6 months, too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cranberry-Sour Cream Pound Cake with #theCakeSliceBakers


Christmas is coming...it's only a little over a month away...and you may want to create some food memories of your own with my choice of this month's Cake Slice Bakers choices. What could be more seasonal than fresh cranberries? They are often on sale for Thanksgiving and on and off up to Christmas. They also freeze well and you can bake with them using frozen berries, so unless you hate cranberries, it's good to stock up on a bag or two or three.

This lovely loaf cake is a nice, buttery, rich pound cake with the added benefit of the bright color and burst of flavor of the cranberries, plus the tang of sour cream. Since mine had to be mostly dairy free (I can have yogurt for some reason, but not sour cream), I used non-dairy margarine and plain yogurt instead of butter and sour cream, and it was still rich and wonderful.

The crumb is slightly less tight than classic pound cake, but still slices nicely and holds together well. I made it at the beginning of the month and sliced it into long fingers to serve at a gathering where they were looking for something to go with mid-morning coffee and tea. Because the cranberries keep it from being too sweet, it was a hit. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of the cake cut into fingers, but I bet you know how to do that anyway. The photo I did take was taken when the cake was recently out of the oven, so the slice is a bit streaky with the cranberry juices, but it was better to slice when it cooled completely.



Each month The Cake Slice Bakers are offered a selection of cakes from the current book we are baking through.  This year it is The Perfect Cake from America's Test Kitchen #atkcake.  We each choose one cake to bake, and then on the 20th - never before - we all post about our cake on our blogs. There are a few rules that we follow, but the most important ones are to have fun and enjoy baking & eating cakes!

Follow our FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest pages where you can find all of our cakes, as well as inspiration for many other cakes. You can also click on the thumbnail pictures below to take you to each of our cakes, or visit our blog where the links are updated each month. If you are interested in joining The Cake Slice Bakers and baking along with us, please send an email to thecakeslicebakers at gmail dot com for more details.

Next month will be the last bake from our current book, The Perfect Cake from America's Test Kitchen #atkcake. Each recipe has been well thought out and has worked perfectly for me, so do consider purchasing this book yourself. It will have the recipe for this lovely pound cake and for many other delightful cakes. Maybe Santa will give it to you for Christmas? BTW, I receive no benefits from ATK for suggesting this. I just think it is a great cake book.


Monday, November 19, 2018

My Favorite Chocolate Cake


Yesterday was about pie, but today I want to share with you my love affair with cakes. In a couple of days I'll be posting the cake for November as part of November's Cake Slice Bakers challenge, but today it's all about chocolate cake.

I do love almost any kind of cake and have a good white cake for birthday cakes like Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake, particularly those with coconut all over the fluffy frosting, and a rum cake is a delight to eat, not to mention carrot cake and apple cake and lemon cake; all cakes I adore. The thing is that what I really, really love is chocolate cake, preferably with chocolate icing.

As a child we were allowed to choose our birthday cake and I always wanted chocolate. It was usually cocoa based and usually shaped as a heart since my birthday was so close to Valentine's day. Some years the confectioners sugar and butter icing was vanilla and sometime Mom made the fudgy chocolate icing on the Hershey's cocoa canister label. As an adult my favorite icing has been chocolate ganache, so rich and elegant.

Still, my absolute favorite cake is the 86 Proof chocolate Bundt cake in Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts. No icing required, just a sprinkle of powdered sugar or drizzle of ganache if you really want to 'gild the lily'. It is moist and intensely chocolate and you don't need a huge serving to get chocolate satisfaction. It's also pretty easy to make. Not only that, it travels well. I've made it too many times to count, not just for myself but to take to potlucks and fancy dinners and picnics. It looks impressive, serves many people because you only need a thin slice, and is far more easy to make than you would imagine. Just make sure you have the large size Bundt tin.


For my older brother's 60th birthday I made the Bundt cake (or maybe two...I forget) and mailed it to him so that it was there when I arrived for his party. Mailing it to the Denver area didn't bother it at all. It wasn't a perfect shape, but it tasted great and with whipped cream decorations no one was the wiser. Because of the added Irish whiskey, the cake was plenty moist and not at all stale. Want to make it yourself? The recipe can be found HERE.


Another fond chocolate cake memory is from when I turned 60. There is something about a round number birthday! My older sister flew all the way from North Carolina and made me a heart shaped chocolate cake with white icing and red sugar sprinkles...so like the ones I enjoyed as a child. It doesn't get better than that when it comes to loving gestures...and good cake, too.



What is your favorite kind of cake?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Soup For Cold Weather and Colds


Soup - what a wonderful thing it is! I've always loved soup. As a child my favorite was chicken with rice from the Campbell's Soup can. I was pretty fond of Campbell's Cream of Chicken, too. By the time I was a teen I loved having their Bean with Bacon canned soup or Split Pea for breakfast. It seemed like a fine alternative to cold cereal or gloppy oatmeal. Of course I thought tuna salad sandwich was a fine alternative, too, so my family probably despaired of my taste buds at the time!


The best soup was my Mom's split pea soup and her turkey soup. I suspect that her bean with bacon would have been the best, too, but we stuck with the stuff in the cans for that soup. Later she made a white bean with ham hock, tomatoes and cabbage that might be my all-time favorite soup (recipe below).

The split pea soup takes a while to make since you not only need to cook the dried split peas to tender, but then cook the whole soup long enough for it to thicken some. I like mine pretty thich and served with croutons made from stale bread. For me and essential ingredient is carrots. There is something about the bright orange flecks in the pea green soup that is very charming. Of course sometimes they cook down so much while the soup thickens that you can't really see them. More carrots?


The turkey soup is usually a multiple-day affair. We usually had a pretty large turkey on Thanksgiving because there were so many of us. There was always a battle about who would get to snap the wishbone, too. It took a day or two of grilled turkey sandwiches and other delights (remember, turkey is probably my favorite food after chocolate) to get down to the carcass.

You start with the carcass from the roast turkey when you have finished with Thanksgiving feast, day-after sandwiches, day-after that turkey a la king or turkey tetrazzini, turkey pot pie, or similar main dish with cooked, cubed turkey, and so on until all you have left are the bones. Make sure there is not stuffing hiding in the crevices of the carcass. The carcass goes into a large stock pot with plenty of water, a whole onion, whole peppercorns. carrots and celery, and salt. After a good long simmer the pot then gets chilled overnight. I like to removed the spent carcass and all the other goodies before chilling, but I can remember times in Mom's kitchen where I was pulling bones out of the chilled, jellied broth...messy!

Once you have the broth you can make any kind of turkey soup you like, but my favorite is still with rice and veggies, probably because that's how Mom made it.

The Country Bean and Cabbage soup is a wonderful, fragrant, warming, stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup that is perfect on a chilly day. Mom discovered this recipe after I had left home, but it was shared around the family and is well worth your time to make. (See second recipe)

There are lots of places were chicken soup is regarded as a kind of medicine for those with a cold or the flu. Don't really believe that it is a cure, but it does seem to help the sick person feel a bit better. Not sure if that is because of the warmth of the soup, the healing properties of a good chicken broth, or because homemade soup is a creation of love. I've made this soup for Sweetie many times and also for my children. Once when Katherine was in college I made some and took it to her, a drive of over three hours each way. She claims that it made the difference and she got better fast, but that may have been just to get me to make more. I also recently visited her in LA and made some when I found out that she had a cold...and that way I got to eat some, too.

Get Well Chicken Soup - photo at top of post
Serves 4 - 6

1 small to medium onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced (use more if you like)
1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
1 cup thinly sliced celery
2 cans chicken broth or 2 cups home made broth
1.5 - 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (leave unpeeled if you wish)
1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped or 1 can already cut tomatoes
2 chicken breasts, cut into bit sized dice
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup frozen peas

In large soup pot, heat grape seed or canola oil until hot (olive oil is not great to use where the temperature will be hot enough to saute') add the onion and garlic and saute' a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Watch to make sure the garlic doesn't burn.

Add the celery and stir to coat with oil, then lower heat to medium and cook 2 minutes.

Add the broth, potatoes, tomatoes, chicken pieces, rosemary, thyme, and pepper. Stir well, cover, and bring to a simmer. Simmer about a half hour, until the potatoes are fork tender.

Remove from heat and stir in the peas. Cover and let stand 10 minutes. Uncover and serve after tasting for seasoning and making corrections if necessary.


Country Bean and Cabbage Soup

2 1/3 cup dry pea beans (Great Northern, white beans)
1 3-lb. cooked picnic ham (smoked pork shoulder), bone in
1 celery stalk, sliced
2 carrots, quartered and sliced
5 sprigs parsley + 2 bay leaves tied together
2 medium onion, sliced, plus 1 onion stuck with
3 whole cloves
4 garlic cloves, mashed
½ teaspoon EACH dried thyme & ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 can tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 small head cabbage, sliced in ¼ inch slices

Cover beans with cold water and let stand overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and soak for 1 hour. 

Drain and rinse, and return beans to the pot. Add ham. Add enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a low simmer and simmer 15 minutes. Add the vegetables, herbs, onions and seasonings to pot. Cover and simmer 1½  hours. 

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, and simmer ½  hour. If tomatoes stay whole, chop them up with a spoon. 

Add the cabbage and simmer ½ hour. 

Make a roux of 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour, cooked in a small pan until light brown. Add it to soup. Remove herb bouquet and whole onion. Simmer 15 minutes. 

Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serves 8 - 10.

Turkey Soup

1 roast turkey carcass
2 quarts water
2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 celery stalks, diced
1 carrot, chunked
1 medium onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
few sprigs parsley


Scrape any stuffing from the turkey and rinse carcass well. Put carcass in a soup kettle with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 2 hours. 

Strain, chill and remove fat from surface. Pick meat from bones and add to soup along with ¼ cup raw rice or leftover cooked rice. 

Add vegetables as desired. Cook 15 minutes or until rice is tender. 

Serve hot. Makes 1½ quarts soup.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Stuffing For The Bird


Stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner turkey is a thing. People have intense opinions about it and can be pretty vocal. It's also one area of a traditional feast that you can play around with a bit, but at the risk of those vocal opinions if there are those at the feast who really, really just want everything to be traditional, each time. When we were young Mom mostly put the stuffing inside the turkey, but later she was just as likely to have most of the stuffing in a casserole, with just a little inside the bird for flavor.  Unfortunately I don't have very many photos of stuffing...it's really not all that photogenic.

My favorite stuffing is a variation of, surprise!, one that my Mom always made. I think her's varied a little bit now and then, especially the year that oysters were added, but the basic stuffing stayed much the same over the years when I lived at home. Things might have gotten wilder in the decades when she was the hostess for the East Coast siblings and their significant others, but I can't remember too many vocal opinions, so I suspect that it stayed pretty close to the original over the years.

For me the key component of stuffing is the bread. Mom used to save heel ends of bread and bread that had gotten stale and freeze them for the stuffing. I did that, too, but now I usually don't. The bread needs to be a bit stale or dry in order to soak up the broth but it doesn't have to be rock hard like some of my frozen bits in the past were. It's OK to take a fresh loaf and cut it into chunks and dry it some in a low oven, or put the chunks on a cookie sheet and cover it and leave it on the counter for a few days to go stale.


I also like to include cornbread, usually freshly made the week of Thanksgiving. Even though the squares in the photo above are very sharp edged, I prefer chunks about an inch to and inch and a half , similar to the ones in the photo below with all the chopped parsley. The chunks are not perfect squares because of the crumbly nature of corn bread, but the chunks and crumbs make a nice binder with the other breads.

Breads? Well, yes, if at all possible I use a combination of breads. Something traditional like a white or whole wheat or granary loaf, another bread with some dried fruit in it, and the cornbread, at a minimum. If I've been baking sourdough bread I make sure to save some for the stuffing.


What else besides bread should you put in? In my kitchen we start with chopped yellow onion and some celery, sauteed in butter or margarine to soften. If you like you can also include shallots, mushrooms, and/or garlic. Sometimes I cook a few ounces of chopped bacon and use the bacon grease for part of the fat to saute the veggies. It adds a pop of flavor and fragrance.


After these veggies have softened, I add the seasonings, including poultry seasoning, thyme, sage (these last two might be in the poultry seasoning, but I like them to be more dominant, so I add extra). Sometimes I'll also add a small amount of fresh rosemary, chopped. A key flavor is chopped parsley so there is usually a fair amount of that, often added to the bread mixture and not the veggies.. Salt and pepper is to taste.


Add-ins can include almost any kind of diced dried fruit, chopped nuts, too. Some people like to add chestnuts or oysters but I think that they tend to overpower the rest of the stuffing.

The final element is good chicken stock. I add just enough to moisten the mixture, but not so much that there is a pool of liquid at the bottom of the bowl.

Once the stuffing has been mixed together, it's time to use it to stuff the bird. I put a small amount of stuffing in the turkey neck area and the larger amount inside the turkey, being careful not to pack it too much because the stuffing needs room to expand a bit during the time the turkey is roasting.

You can also put the stuffing into a greased casserole and bake it that way. If you bake it in a glass or other microwave-safe casserole dish, you can reheat it in the microwave right before everything goes on the table. A large surface area, such as what you will have with a 9 x 13-inch baking dish (or even longer and wider) will give you more of the delicious browned stuffing.

I'll bet you know of one or more ingredients or methods that I've missed, but that's half the fun of stuffing...being creative...the other half is eating it, with a little turkey gravy over it!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Bagels with the Bread Baking Babes


Before we get to the bagels (other than the photo), I want to thank the wonderful Bread Baking Babes for asking me to join them quite a few years ago. The group is usually about a dozen bakers and every month a different Babe chooses the recipe that we bake. Fortunately creativity is encouraged so some months it's almost as if we each had a different recipe! A number of the Babes originally found each other through the Daring Bakers group. At first the Daring Bakers were small enough that you could get around to each bakers post,  but when it grew and grew and grew the sheer size got in the way of the fellowship. The BBBs have that fellowship and we have fun baking different breads together.



In June 2007 the Daring Bakers made bagels. I baked some on my own to have at work when President Obama was inaugurated. It was still pretty early here on the West coast when the actual inauguration happened, so we had a Breakfast party of celebration at work. That's your Food Memory for today.


The party at work was probably the last time that I made bagels and I've never made them with a dough like the one that our Kitchen of the Month, Baking Soda of Bake My Day gave us. It has a lot of eggs and some vegetable oil and make a dough that is a joy to work with. Really tasty, too, once baked. I only made 1/4 of the dough into bagels. Might try the bagel loaf today or tomorrow with some of the rest of the dough, now that 've had a good night's sleep. The previous night I had stayed up late watching The British Baking Show episodes and then rose very early to bake birthday cookies for a friend at the gym. We leave for the gym at 8:30 am, so you get the idea.


I did stray from the recipe a bit (how unusual!!) by reducing the yeast to one packet and even that might have been a little bit too much yeast. I also reduced the sugar and salt in the dough to one tablespoon each. I also was very tired and doing this bake after dinner and with too little sleep (which is why I only made 6), so I didn't read the directions carefully enough. I didn't boil four of the bagels long enough so they became rounds in the oven instead of flatter bagels. Two of them I did boil long enough and they looked as they should, so when you make them be sure to boil for three minutes on the second side. Was so tired that I didn't even take a photo of the boiling.


You can top these as you like, or even make flavor variations that Baking Soda includes at the end of the recipe. I used a mixture of seeds for most of them and tried a different seed mixture that included pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries for a couple, but the cranberries burned during baking, so I don't recommend that. Of course the two that had burnt cranberries were the two that were shaped correctly. Just not my night.



You'll surely want to be a Buddy this month, these bagels are so delicious! Just make the bagels or loaves (see Baking Soda's post for the loaves instructions), then email your link ( or email your photo and bit about your experience if you don't have a blog) to bakemyday *at*gmail *dot*com and please add as your subject 'BBBuddy'. Baking Soda will send you a Buddy badge. Deadline? December 1.

Be sure also to check out the efforts of the other Bread Baking Babes.


Egg Bagels
(Makes about 30 bagels or 3 9x5" loaves)

Ingredients


1 or 2 large russet potato (ab 3/4 pound total) (we only use the potato water!)
2.1/2 cups water
2 tbs active dry yeast * (I used 18 grams)
1.1/2 tbs sugar plus more for the boiling water as needed**

1.1/2 tbs salt plus more for the boiling water as needed
7-7.1/2 cups unbleached ap flour or bread flour (I used 980 grams)
1/4 cup corn oil
4 large eggs

Egg Glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 tbs water

Sesame/poppy seeds for garnish

* yeast. Beth is a very enthusiastic yeast user. Please use your bread sense and adjust if needed ;-)
** I think bagels need some sweet in the dough. But maybe you feel this is a bit much. That's fine! Use less!

1.             Peel potatoes and cut into large chunks, boil in 2.1/2 cups water until tender. Drain but reserve2 cups of the potato water! Let cool until lukewarm. Use potato for other purposes.
2.             In a large bowl using a whisk or the work bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer fitted wth the paddle attachment combine yeast, 1.1/2 tbs sugar, 1.1/2 tbs salt and 2 cups of the flour. Add potato water and oil. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the flour and the eggs and beat again for 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time until a soft dough forms that just clears the side of the bowl. Switch to a wooden spoon when necessary if mixing by hand.
3.             Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and springy, about 5 minutes. Only dust with flour to prevent sticking. By machine: switch from the paddle to the dough hook and knead for 4-5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springy.
4.             Place dough in a greased deep container. Turn once to coat the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk 1-1.1/2 hours.

5.             To form bagels: gently deflate the dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into quarters. Then each quarter into 6-8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a smooth round. Flatten with your palm and poke a floured finger through the middle of the ball. Stretch the hole with your finger to make it about 1 inch in diameter. Spin the dough around your finger. The hole will shrink slightly when you stop. Form all bagels.
They will need no further rise at this point.

6.             20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Grease or parchment line 2 baking sheets. Meanwhile bring a large pot (3-4 quarts) of water to a boil. Add 2tbs of salt or sugar to the boiling water depending on the flavor you want the crust to have. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle low boil.

7.             With a slotted spatula, lower 3-4 bagels at a time into the gently boiling water. They will drop to the bottom and then rise to the surface. As they come to the surface, turn each bagel and boil it 3 minutes on the other side. This goes very quickly, if you are making the entire batch of bagels, use a second pot of boiling water.
8.             Remove the bagels from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place each 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. When all the bagels have been boiled, brush with the glaze and sprinkle with the seeds if desired. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until deep golden. Transfer the bagels immediately to a cooling rack.
9.             To form and bake a bagel loaf: In step 5  turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 equal portions. For into rectangular loaves and place in 3 greased 9-by-5 loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until just level with the tops of the pans. (These loaves will rise a lot in the oven) about 40 minutes.
10.          20 minutes before baking preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C)

Brush the tops with egg glaze and using kitchen shears, carefully snip the top of the dough about ½” deep at 2” intervals down the center of the loaf. Bake in the center of the preheated oven until crusty, golden brown and the top sounds hollow when tapped with your finger, 40-45 minutes. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

# Make these whole wheat by subbing 3 cups for an equal portion of the unbleached flour

# Orange Oatmeal
sub 1.1/2 cup oatmeal for an equal portion of the unbleached flour, add 
1 tbsp grated orange zest and 2 tbsp honey

# Cinnamon Raisin
  Increase the sugar to 1/4 cup. Add 1 tbs ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground mace or nutmeg and 1/2 tsp ground cardamom with the flour in the initial mixing. Add 1.1/2 cups golden or dark raisins during mixing. This dough may be formed into a loaf and topped with sesame seeds.

# Pumpernickel Bagels
Substitute 2 cups medium or dark rye flour for an equal portion of the unbleached flour. Add 1/4 cup molasses, 1 tbs unsweetened cocoa and 1 tbs powdered instant coffee. Glaze the tops and sprinkle with caraway seeds.

# Onion bagels
Saute 1 finely chopped onion in 4 tbs butter until softened. Halfway through baking glaxe the bagel tops and spread 2 tsp of onion mixture over each bagel. 
Finish baking.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Elizabeth made these weight conversions:
1 or 2 large russet potato (ab 3/4 pound total) [340 grams]
2.1/2 cups water [500 grams]
2 tbs active dry yeast * [24 grams]
1.1/2 tbs sugar plus more as needed** [18.75 grams]
7-7.1/2 cups unbleached ap flour or bread flour [875 - 938 grams]
1/4 cup corn oil [56 grams]
4 large eggs [200 grams]