Aug 21, 2017

Cape Gooseberries? Ground Cherries? How about a Crumble?


 Do you recognize this fruit?  The botanical name is "Physalis" , some people call them Ground Cherries, or Cape Gooseberries. In any case, I have a TON of them in my garden, and therefore you might see some in your CSA, or in the Farmers' Market this week.

They are delicious for snacking, make a terrific "new fruit" for Rosh Hashana, a great addition to any tomato salad, but in this dessert, paired with fresh apples they have a chance to toot their own tasty horn.




Cape Gooseberry Apple Crumble

Ingredients:
Serves 4
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored, cut in chunks
  • handful of dried blueberries
  • 2 cups of husked cape gooseberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
Put the chunked apples and the blueberries in a saucepan with the orange juice and cook until apples are soft. Stir in gooseberries, and cook for about a minute.

cooking the gooseberries, apples and dried blueberries





Make the crumb topping-
Rub flour and butter together, add other ingredients and mix until crumbly.
(you can do it in the food processor)

3/4 cup flour
4 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
 1 Tbsp. grated orange or lemon zest 


 Preheat oven to 400

Divide the fruit mixture into 4 individual baking dishes. Top with the crumb mixture.
Bake for about 40 minutes till bubbly and done.
If they are browning too quickly, reduce heat and place a sheet of foil loosely over the ramekins.




Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Fresh Corn Pudding

Fresh Corn Pudding. Summer Glory in a Baking Dish.


This is a classic and totally delicious side dish or vegetarian main course. It is easy to make, and a great thing to bring to a BBQ or pot-luck. If you need to make it after the glory of fresh corn season, you can substitute a can each of corn and creamed corn, or use frozen corn and puree half. But at least once make it from fresh-from-the-farm summer corn. Serve with grilled salmon, salad, and roasted veggie ratatouille.





1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
8 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off and cobs scraped to extract "milk"
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped fresh pepper (semi-spicy ones, like nardello or poblano if you like spice)
1 onion chopped
3 cups shredded cheese (divided)
salt and pepper


Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F. Oil a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  1. Cut the kernels off the corn cobs, and scrape the cob with a knife to get all the milky goodness. Puree half of the corn in a food processor or blender. 
  2. Whisk together the cornmeal and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. Beat the eggs; stir in the corn and the pureed corn, buttermilk, melted butter, peppers, and onion. Stir in the cornmeal mixture and 2 cups of the Cheddar cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.Pour into the prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven until firmed and lightly browned, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese; return to the oven for 15 minutes more. Allow it to stand 15 minutes before serving.

Jul 20, 2017

The Very Best Blueberry Muffins- Make Ahead and Bake in the Morning.


What is better than warm, fresh muffins on a weekend morning? The only thing that is better is mixing them up the day (or night) before, and having them all ready to pop into the oven. You can make the batter, fill your muffin cups, wrap and refrigerate to bake within 24 hours. Alternatively, you can make the batter, fill the cups, and freeze. When they are frozen, lift the frozen muffins out of the pan, put in a ziplock bag, and return the frozen muffins to the muffin tin, and bake them without defrosting.

This recipe works really well with any fruit (or chocolate chips) that you want to add. Because it is designed for making ahead and baking later the amounts of baking powder and soda are larger than a regular muffin recipe. So use another recipe if you want to bake right away. If you have it, you can substitute buttermilk for the yogurt and milk.

Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp.  baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
10 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup sugar (or 1 cup if you like things really sweet)
2 eggs (large)
rind of one lemon (microplaned)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup plain yogurt (not fat free)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups blueberries (or raspberries, pitted, peeled, cut-up peaches, chocolate chips, dried cherries, or whatever fruit you like)
Coarse sugar (Sugar in the Raw, or Turbinado) for sprinkling

1. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with pam, and fit with paper cupcake liners.

2. Sift together (or whisk) flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Reserve.

3. Cream together butter and sugar in an electric mixer until fluffy, and add in eggs one at a time. Add half the dry ingredients, half the yogurt and milk, then the rest. Mix in the lemon peel and cinnamon. Remove from mixer.

4. Stir in the fruit. (I like to mash up about a third of the blueberries, and leave the rest whole). A nice touch is dusting the whole blueberries with a bit of flour before mixing them in, the flour keeps the berries suspended in the mixture better.

5. Scoop the batter evenly into the paper-lined muffin cups. Wrap tightly with plastic or foil, and refrigerate for up to a day.

To Bake:

Preheat oven to 425. Unwrap muffin tin.
Sprinkle each muffin with a teaspoon of coarse sugar,  and place muffin tin in lower third of oven to bake.
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then without opening oven, lower the temperature to 375 and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes more. Cool on rack.

(If you are baking them from frozen the total baking time will be about 10 minutes more.)




Jun 20, 2017

Lemony Chicken Salad and Pea Shoot Salad for a Hot Summer Day

Spinach, Edamame, Pea Shoot, and blueberry salad
Lemony Chicken salad with Marcona Almonds




















These two tasty and light salads make the most of seasonal ingredients and no matter how hot or how uninterested you might be in cooking or eating, this will hit the spot. Dessert can be a bowl of cherries nestled in ice cubes, and cookies.

Lemony Chicken Salad with Marcona Almonds
serves about 6

8 Chicken Breast Cutlets
4 ribs celery chopped
half a red onion chopped finely
zest and juice of one lemon
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs. capers and a bit of the brine
handful of chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, oregano or your favorites)
1 Qt. chicken stock
salt and pepper 
Marcona Almonds,  chopped
quartered assorted cherry tomatoes for garnish

  1. In a deep saute pan, heat chicken stock (or water and a soup cube) to a simmer, and add chicken breasts. Poach in simmering water about 10 minutes, or until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from heat and allow chicken to cool. Cut or shred into small pieces, about 1 inch square.
  2. Add chopped celery, red onion and  capers.
  3. Mix mayonnaise with  dijon mustard, lemon zest and juice, and lightly stir into chicken mixture. Add more mayonnaise if desired.
  4. Add in herbs, and salt and pepper to taste
  5. Arrange on serving plate with assorted tomatoes around the sides
  6. Top with chopped almonds

 Spinach, Edamame, Blueberry and Pea Shoot Salad
 

Wash and dry a bag of baby spinach, put in salad bowl with a cup or so of edamame (fresh or frozen thawed), a cup of blueberries, and top with a big handful of pea shoots.

Use your favorite dressing, or try this one:

Sweet Salad Dressing
2/3 cup good olive oil
1/3  cup sherry or champagne wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbs. sugar or splenda
salt and fresh ground pepper

Shake all ingredients in a jar, can keep extra in fridge for a week.





Cucumber Pea-shoot, Mint and Arugala Salad


The baby cucumber, pea-shoot, arugala, mint and walnut salad features finds from this week's farmer's market, and suggested a new feature of the blog. From now on I will include a recipe made from things currently available this week. Improvise on the recipe however you wish. Any fresh herb can be added, ditto any interesting greens.

I had a bit of Meyer Lemon marmalade left over from this Blueberry Trifle. It is a good example of ways to use up leftovers. I simply added 2/3 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar to the remains of the marmelade right in the jar, a bit of salt and pepper- and shake!

combine on a platter or bowl:
6 small cucumbers peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
6 sprigs of mint chopped roughly
2 cups baby arugula
handful of pea shoots
raw walnuts

Add any basic vinaigrette you like, but I really liked the sweetness of the marmelade. You could use honey and some lemon juice, lime juice, or orange juice to the same effect.

Jun 14, 2017

Blueberry Blackberry Cobbler

  • 4 cups peeled, sliced peaches, blueberries, blackberries, pitted cherries or a mixture of all
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 tablespoons butter (one stick)
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour**
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • Ground cinnamon, optional
**As a substitute for 1-1/2 cups self-rising flour, place 2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup. Add all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup. Combine with an additional 1/2 cup all-purpose flour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the fruit, 3/4 cup sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.

Mix remaining 3/4 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Gently pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Using a slotted spoon, put fruit on top, and then gently pour syrup around the fruit in the pan. Again, don't stir. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream, creme fraiche, or vanilla ice cream.

Jun 4, 2017

Spring Luncheon: Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts with Blueberry Trifle




Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts
  • 1 package Dufour puff pastry, defrosted
  • olive oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  •  salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. chopped chives
  • 1/3 cup (about) grated Parmesan
  • 4 ounces herbed or plain chevre (goat cheese)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • a few basil leaves shredded finely
    Golden Brown and Savory
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Use Convection feature if your oven has it.

Caramelized Onions:
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Let them cook slowly for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to turn golden, and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper,  balsamic vinegar, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Unfold a sheet of pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it slightly with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Using a pizza cutter or knife, divide it into 12 rectangles. Transfer rectangles to baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Pastry rectangles ready for Oven
Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry rectangle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle with grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
Divide the of the onion mixture evenly, again staying within the scored edge.

Crumble goat cheese on top of the onions. Top each with a tomato slice in the center. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, sprinkle a bit more parmesan on top

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown, rotating sheets as necessary. Serve hot or warm.




BLUEBERRY LEMON TRIFLE
 serves 12 
  • 1 Pound Cake (plain or lemon) purchased or made from your favorite recipe
  • 1 jar Lemon Marmelade
  • 4 pints fresh blueberries
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream divided
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
1. Rinse Blueberries. Put 2 pints in a food processor and puree. Add sugar to taste, if the berries are not sweet enough. Mix pureed blueberries with whole berries and reserve in a bowl.
2. Cut the cake into 1 inch cubes.
3. Put softened cream cheese into the bowl of an electric mixer with the sugar, and begin to beat. Slowly pour in one cup of cream, and beat until smooth and thick. Spoon in a large dollop of the lemon marmelade.
4. Put remaining marmelade in a saucepan or a microwave-able bowl. Heat either on the stovetop or into the microwave until melted, add in the Grand Marnier or Triple sec. Cool.

Assembly:

In a straight-sided glass bowl, carefully spoon in a layer of the berry mixture. Follow with a layer of cake cubes. Spoon or brush the cake cubes with the marmelade-liqueur mixture. Spoon in a layer of the cream mixture. Repeat layers ending with berries.
Be careful to keep the sides of the bowl as clean as possible, to show off the layers.

Put remaining cup of cream in mixer and whip until stiff peaks form, with about 1/4 cup additional sugar. Spoon over the top (or put in a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe it on if you are feeling fancy). Decorate with mint leaves, flowers, crushed cookie crumbs, or whatever is handy. Enjoy with champagne.



Mar 6, 2017

The Hamentaschen Axiom: Its Always Something



No matter what you do, something is going to be wrong with your Hamentaschen.

Hamentaschen baking and garden planning are always linked in my mind. Even Henry just asked "Is it spring yet?".  Seed Catalogues were my sole companion during last week's Involuntary Arctic Exile, and I stayed busy convincing myself not to plant any number of exotic heirloom varieties. And Amanda and I sent links for Hamentaschen Recipes back and forth in gchat.

Hamentaschen are like Connecticut vegetable gardens. In the garden, either its too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry. Spring is too early, or too late. Its either blossom-end rot, or tomato horn worms. And if its none of those, deer or woodchucks get in. And there are rabbits. Hamentaschen are either tasteless and dry, or tasty and deformed. If you make poppy, people complain that they are not apricot. If you make apricot, you wish you had raspberry. And although you never really had a scrumptious triangular cookie with a Yiddish name and a fruity filling, you always secretly believe that, like a hardy but tasty tomato seed, eventually all will be revealed. Why do we persist?  Seed catalogs and baking hamentaschen are signs that spring is on the way. And Jews and gardeners are nothing if not persistent.

Amanda went with tasty dairy hamentaschen made with a rugelach- like cream cheese and butter pastry. Alas, they did the come-unstuck-flop-open-into-circles- with-blobs-of-jam thing.


I decided to revisit and tweak a recipe that I thought had potential, one that boldly claimed to be "The Best Hamentashen You Will Ever Eat"
Although I wouldn't go that far, they really don't taste too bad. (Jews and gardeners...hopeful).The problem with these is that they are seriously UGLY. Part of the problem is mine-- in my last frenzied stock up at Whole Foods, I bought Organic Cane Sugar- which is significantly coarser than my usual Domino. And thinking that more is more in the taste department of non-buttery baked goods, instead of using my microplane grater, I grated the orange peel coarsely. So the dough was lumpy, ergo lumpy result.
The combo of the coarse sugar and the coarse orange peel, however made for a crisp and flavorful cookie, one that even improved a bit with time.
So take off your glasses and bite into one of these

UglyTaschen

Adapted from an adaptation from the Molly Goldberg Jewish Cookbook
 
¾ cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup room temperature shortening, butter or margarine (I used half Earth Balance Sticks, half Fleishman's pareve margarine)
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbs. orange juice
1 tsp. grated orange zest
2 tsp. vanilla extract (or your choice)
1 tsp Princess Flavoring optional

Filling of your choice-- Solo/Lekvar/Lemon Curd/ Jam

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add shortening or butter in tablespoon-sized pieces and combine with the paddle attachment until the dough has big crumbs.

Combine orange juice, extract, and beaten egg.

Add these wet ingredients to the dough and mix until a dough is formed. I found the dough very dry and added  an extra Tablespoon more juice or soy milk.

Divide into two mounds, and roll each out between 2 sheets of parchment to a thickness of about 1/8 inch.
Chill well-- at least an hour. For more about this see the sugar cookie entry.

Heat oven to 400

Remove a chilled dough sheet from the fridge. Remove top parchment and flip over onto baking sheet.

Using a 3”  round cutter, (or a glass like your "Oma" did), cut dough sheet into circles.

Place  1 (scant) teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle. Fold up the corners and seal well forming triangles.

Place cookies on cookie sheets and bake 12 – 15 minutes, rotating if your oven requires it until light golden brown.

Let cool on sheets about 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: about 2 dozen
Easy to double.

Feb 1, 2017

What to serve with Latkes? FLANKENBERRY! Braised Flanken with Pomegranate.

Pomegranate Short Ribs


Everyone has a different idea of what they want to put into their stomach before the fast day of Yom Kippur. Henry, for example liked a big steak and baked potato, and our friend Peter requested boiled beef. Now, boiled beef is not something I have included in my repertoire, so searching for a recipe, I found this one, from Melissa Clark in the NY Times. I especially liked the idea of the pomegranate in this one, because it has a symbolic meaning to Jews, for whom the many juicy seeds represent the 613 commandments in the Torah. I love the idea of serving this dish before The Day of Atonement. I wish all my readers a meaningful fast, and, the wish that we all be sealed in the book of life.


 Braised Flanken with Pomegranate
4 pounds flanken ribs
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 medium celery stalks, diced
2 leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned, quartered lengthwise and chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 cups chicken stock, or as needed
3 thyme branches (see note)
1 rosemary branch
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (optional)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season meat generously all over with salt and pepper. Heat a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear meat in batches until dark golden, 3 to 4 minutes a side. Transfer meat to a platter.
2. Add oil to pan and sauté carrots, celery, leeks, garlic and shallot until vegetables are softened and slightly caramelized, about 5 minutes; season lightly with salt and pepper. Add pomegranate juice and wine, and cook, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan, until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Return meat to pot. Liquid should reach halfway up sides of meat. If not, add a little more stock or water.
3. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook, turning meat every 30 minutes until fork tender, about 2 hours.
4. If you have time, let meat cool and chill overnight. The next day, remove fat from surface, then reheat over low heat. Stir in the pomegranate molasses if using, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and cilantro just before serving.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
Note: You may wrap herbs and cloves in cheesecloth before adding to pot; remove before chilling or serving.

Serve with

Herb Mashed Potatoes

Scrub a couple of pounds of new potatoes, fingerling, or yukon gold potatoes, put in a pan with water to cover and cook until a knife pierces the potato easily.
Reserve about a cup of the cooking water.
Mash the potatoes roughly and add a good drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Continue mashing, adding the cooking water (or milk, cream, or soy milk) till smooth. Before serving, stir in a handful of chopped fresh herbs like parsley, chives, lovage, thyme, or celery tops. Keep warm until serving.

Sep 26, 2016

Pepper Jelly Hungarian Shortbread


I have a ton of peppers ripening all at once, so I made a lot of pepper jelly. I'll post a recipe, but I just used the recipe on the Ball Pectin package, using a random mixture of bell peppers, nardello peppers, italian peppers, with a couple of jalapenos mixed in. Next time I won't be so shy with the jalapenos.
So the pepper jelly (I bet you have a jar in your cupboard) is one of those things you never really know what to do with, and save, knowing you can spread it on cream cheese and any cracker and have something to serve with drinks.
So I came up with a couple of things to do with it, and one of the best, is just using it on a PB and J sandwich (PB and PJ)! Also; mix a big spoonful into the next vinaigrette you make. 
But then I had the idea to put it in a traditional jam cookie, and had just read about this shortbread from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (Morrow, 1996), which uses a different method of making the pastry that does not require rolling it out. Instead you freeze it and grate it into the pan with an ordinary box grater.
The recipe is great if you want to make it as she does with Raspberry Jam, or you can sub in any nice jam or preserve, but the Pepper Jelly version is wild and wonderful.


Ingredients:
2 cups flour, plus more as needed
1 tsp. baking powder
18 tsp. fine salt
12 lb. unsalted, uncultured butter, plus more for pan, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
34 cup pepper jelly
Instructions:
Using a sieve over a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Cream butter in a large bowl, using a hand mixer on high speed, until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and egg yolks; mix until sugar is dissolved and mixture is light, about 4 minutes. With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour mixture; mix until dough just begins to come together, about 1 minute.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; bring it together with your hands. Divide dough in half and form 2 balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap; freeze for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.
Arrange an oven rack in center of oven; heat to 350°.
Grease a 10" springform pan with butter.
Remove a ball of dough from freezer, unwrap, and grate, using the large holes of a box grater, directly into prepared pan. Gently pat grated dough to even it out. Spread jam evenly over dough, leaving about a 1⁄2" border around edges. Grate remaining dough over jam layer; pat gently until surface is even. Bake until light golden brown, about 25–30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, on a rack, before cutting into wedges