Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just a Sampling

In case you haven't noticed, I've been posting quite a few "larder-type" entries the past few weeks. It's not because I've sworn off cakes, pastries, breads and pies. Ah, no. Never! It's because it's harvest time here in these parts and that means storing up for the seasons to come.

The above beauties were called to "represent." I didn't grab the bottles that turned out the best; I simply grabbed the ones that were front and center in the cupboard. Who knows but what more photogenic peaches or apple slices were left behind just because they got shoved to the back of the shelf.

I've been stocking up my larder and my pantry so that we have deliciousness waiting for us throughout the winter and early spring. During the late summer, I have canned fruits, canned sauces, made jams, frozen fresh vegetables, mixed my own spices and am now in the middle of making my flavored sugars.

For the next few days, I'll go through the recipes for the remaining items I haven't yet shared.

Today we are talking about Amish Sweet Ketchup.

I'd never had it before, but after trying out a couple of recipes I found, I combined quite a few ideas and came up with one that I think is a keeper. To me, however, it doesn't taste so much like ketchup as it does a very sweet barbecue sauce or marinade. So, make some up and try it with whatever meat dish you usually sauce up or marinate. (I'm thinking it will be delish with a pork roast. As soon as the weather is cold enough to make me crave a pork roast for Sunday dinner, I'll use this sauce and let you know.)

Amish Sweet Ketchup
12 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch diced slices
4 medium onions, peeled and finely diced
1/2 C water
6 lbs tomatoes, quartered (I used Roma)
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp vinegar
2 C packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground allspice
1 Tbsp whole cloves
1 Tbsp celery seeds
2 tsp ground mace
1 tsp salt

Place the celery, onions and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Vegetables should be barely soft. Meanwhile, cook the tomatoes in a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, partially covered, for about 25 minutes. The consistency should end up being almost like a puree. Add the cooked celery mixture and continue cooking until all vegetables are completely softened, about 15 more minutes.

Strain the mixture in small batches through a sieve. Press down firmly to extract all the liquid. Place extracted liquid into another nonreactive saucepan. Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, and all spices. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling until mixture thickens somewhat, about 15-20 minutes. Stir often to keep mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Allow the ketchup to cool and then ladle it into jars. Ketchup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. You can also pour the hot ketchup into hot sterilized canning jars and process using a pressure canner.

Amish Sweet Ketchup is quite thin in consistency compared to what we normally consider ketchup around these parts.

Jump to it, my friends. Autumn has come... at least to my neck of the woods. Here's proof:
The harvest will soon be over. Get your canning and storing up done.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oh the Joy of It

Oatmeal in the morning. No, seriously. Oatmeal. Yum. Autumn has arrived here on the mountain and the air is crisp. That means we need warm starts to the morning. This is one that will get you going.

There's a story behind this recipe. The first time I made it, I added bananas in it to kind of bind it all together. Bad idea. Very. Bad. Idea. So, since then, I have tweaked it and I like the result.

Almond Joy Oatmeal
2 C rolled oats (I don't have quick oats)
3 C milk
1 C water
scant 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 C mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 C sweetened coconut flakes
1/4 C almond slivers, toasted
4 tsp almond butter (optional)

In a medium size pan, heat the oats, milk, water, and salt over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to simmer, add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and sugar. Stir until incorporated. Pour into a serving bowl and top with the almond butter, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and slivered almonds.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Secret Craving

Anything Argentine. Wait... everything Argentine. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of Argentina at least once. The food, the music, the people, the architecture, the culture, the language. I long to go back and hear the musical lilt of Castellano spoken on the street. To walk through the neighborhoods as the patterns of the 'baldosas' (sidewalk tiles) change from house to house. To see the bright colors of the fresh fruit and vegetables in the produce shops (verdulerías). To smell the fresh breads and pastries each morning in the bakeries (panaderías).

I went to Argentina three times in my life. Added together, I lived there for two years. I would go back in a heartbeat. Half a heartbeat. It pleases me beyond measure that (thanks to my ex-husband) my children are half-Argentine. It pleases me even more that they have renewed contact with one of their paternal uncles who lives about a half-hour from my home. They are getting a glimpse into the Argentine style of life and family as they spend time with, eat meals with and simply be with him.

What fun it would be for me to travel to Buenos Aires with them now that they are young adults and introduce them to the sights, sounds, tastes and energy of that part of their heritage.

Why is all this nostalgia being related on a food blog? Well. Three simple words. Dulce. De. Leche. Nothing takes my mind back to Argentina faster than dulce de leche. Since I can't go there, I've decided to bring a little Buenos Aires into my home today. My very first day in Argentina, I was given a container of dulce de leche as a gift. I promptly went out to the neighborhood frutería and bought a couple apples and a banana. After slicing up the apple, I spread dulce de leche on each apple wedge. It was like eating a caramel apple without the stick and without the mess getting on your face. Did the same thing with the banana. Put a bit of dulce de leche on it, bit it, more dulce, another bite. Voilá... caramel-dipped banana without dipping it.

So today, I'm making dulce de leche. Yes, you can buy it in almost any latin market. In fact, about 15 miles north of me is this lovely Mercado Latino run by a Mexican family I know. (The color isn't exactly subtle, is it?)

They always stock dulce de leche, tapas for empanadas, and yerba mate (pronounced mah-tay) --the three staples of an Argentine existence -- for their Argentine customers. Normally, when I need a "tango fix", I'll go there and pick up a few familiar products. But... today, I'm staying home, spending NO cash, using what I've already got on hand, listening to my tango CDs by Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzola and making my own dulce de leche.

Dulce de Leche
4 cups milk (I use whole milk)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Pour the milk into a heavy-bottom sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add the sugar, baking soda and vanilla. Whisk to ensure the sugar dissolves completely. (You don't want gritty dulce de leche, so whisk thoroughly.) Cook on medium low until it turns into caramel. This will likely take 2-3 hours. Stir it occasionally.

You will know when it is done because it will have the delectable deep tanned color that California blondes flaunt and California redheads secretly envy. When the mixture is that beautiful deep caramel color, it is unmistakeably dulce de leche. Some people like it runny; others like it thicker (I'm a thicker girl myself). But at the very least, when you pour some onto the center of a plate, it should stay in place and not make a puddle. That's how you'll know it's ready.

Dulce de leche is extremely versatile. It can be used as a spread for toast in the morning, as a drizzle over fruits or ice cream, as a filling for pastries. It can be spread in between layers of a cake or in between cookies for a caramel-type sandwich cookie. It can be used in frosting recipes. And, amazingly, it is delicious when used to thoroughly coat and cover your fingers all the way down to the second joint... and then, straight into your mouth! Yep, the truth is out. The main purpose of fingers is to be the utensils you use to eat dulce de leche.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Adding to the Rack

The spice rack, people. The spice rack. There are so many spice and herb combinations that we pay way too much for when we buy them at the store. So many of them can be made at home. I thought I'd give you a few. Most dried spice combos will last for about six months.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 C ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Apple Pie Spice
1/4 C ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Garlic Salt
Three parts salt to one part garlic powder

Italian Seasoning
2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp marjoram
2 Tbsp dried basil
2 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried sage

Taco Seasoning
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
4 tsp salt
2 tsp tumeric
1 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
Use about 2 Tbsp of this mix per 1 pound of hamburger when making tacos.

Cajun Seasoning
2 tsp white pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp ground red pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp black pepper

Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp granulated garlic
1 Tbsp granulated onion
1 Tbsp coarsely ground coriander seeds
1 Tbsp dill
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried fennel

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

Sometimes I just can't come up with a good, quick idea for dinner. I was feeling in a bit of a lazy culinary mood. Chicken wasn't floating my boat. It was too late (and still too warm) for pot roast. The pork chops weren't defrosted. And pasta? Well, let's just say Mr. Doughboy isn't exactly a pasta afficionado like I am. I decided to have my favorite meal bail me out. In case you were wondering, my favorite meal is breakfast.

Since our kitchen is still blessed with the presence of fresh peaches, I decided peach pancakes were in order. Yum! I found this recipe on Hot off the Garlic Press. (Can I just say? That's a delicious site.) She cooked hers up as waffles -- a fabulous idea -- but I didn't have time, so I did pancakes. And since it is my belief there's no such thing as too many peaches, I decided to use a peach compote along with maple syrup.

These were a big hit. As Mr. Doughboy was biting into his stack, he had a bit of a time warp and began reminiscing about early fall mornings and the peaches his mom would serve for breakfast. This recipe definitely has his stamp of approval.

The pancakes cook up so beautifully with the pieces of peach in them. I'm including a close-up shot of an unadorned pancake so you can see those tempting peach pieces just calling your name. And if you aren't into lumpy, compote type toppings, try this with peach syrup. That would be divine, I'm sure.

Sour Cream Peach Hotcakes (from Hot Off the Garlic Press)
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Unsalted butter
2 peaches, peeled and diced, plus extra for serving
Maple syrup

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet or griddle over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a few pieces of diced peaches on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with hot peach compote/syrup, butter and maple syrup.

Peach Compote
5 large peaches, peeled and sliced
1/3 C granulated sugar
1/3 C brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp butter
1 C water

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat. When peaches begin to release their juices, mash them into the sauce. Continue to cook until it begins to thicken.

Note: Mr. Doughboy used just the peach compote on his pancakes. I, however, drizzled just a bit of maple syrup on top of the pancakes as well. Oh baby! It was SO GOOD.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Message to Santa

After working on this blog for almost two months, I have started to keep a running list in my head of all the kitchen gadgets I would like to have. I thought maybe, since Mrs. Santa is such a wonderful cook and baker, she likely reads lots of food blogs (including mine). I figure this is the most efficient way to get my Christmas list to my... er, I mean her jolly husband.

The Flake's Christmas Wish List
World Peace (doesn't hurt to suck up, right?)
A new lens for my camera (Canon G10)
A ceramic spoon holder to sit on the stovetop
A hot air corn popper
A Cuisinart ice cream maker (2-quart please)
Lots and lots of mismatched dessert plates (antiques, Deseret Industries bargains, single settings -- all to be used in my food porn photography collection)
Three 8x4 (not 9x5) bread loaf pans
A white cake plate (raised)
A microplane zester (sigh, drool)
A spice rack complete with empty bottles (I know just the one and have it marked at
Assorted serving platters
Fat French Chef decor accessories (the little portly guys with chef hats)
My very own Flirty Apron ( Well, okay, I want more than one. I want FOUR! Two for me (laundry rotation, don't ya know) and two matching little girl sizes to keep on hand for Mae and any other future granddaughters to use when we bake together. Well, hmmm... actually... I also want one for Katie, Juliann, and Rachael to have on hand at our house when they come over and help in the kitchen. You can see where this is going, right Santa? Every new girl that arrives into the family (through birth or marriage) is going to need their own Flirty Apron. Oh heck, Santa, just buy me stock in the company.

Football's A'Poppin'

College football. Oh yeah! I love it. Mr. Doughboy and I usually have season tickets to our team. But this year, well... oops, we let the deadline lapse and didn't realize it in time. When Mr. Doughboy went down to see if we could still get tickets, there were no season tickets left. We were lucky to get tickets to three of the home games, but that was it. Sad day!

So... now we're doing the TV fan thing for the games we can't see in the stadium. Last Saturday I popped some popcorn to enjoy during the game. Some Cinnamon Caramel Corn. Yum!!!

Cinnamon Caramel Corn
1/2 C butter
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C light corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Over medium heat, combine first 5 ingredients and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. Stir well. Pour over 4 quarts popped corn. Stir to coat well. Bake in large roaster or pan for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper to dry.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Telling Myself I'm On a Health Kick

It's still a dessert. It still has sugar and butter. But, hey, there are pieces of fresh fruit in there... and the topping tastes like granola. That counts for something, right?

Around here we love fruit cobblers and fruit crisps. Each year during peach season we help ourselves to lots of these warm desserts. I have a "go-to" recipe for peach crisp that we all enjoy. But today, I decided to try something a little different. You see, I had some Cinnamon Honey Butter still in the fridge and I wanted to use it up. So... I decided to use it instead of just regular butter when making the topping for the Peach Crisp. It definitely changed the flavor and the texture (what with the honey in it). I'm not sure Mr. Doughboy liked it. It's different and his first reaction to different is, well, doubtful. But, the more I ate it, the more I liked it.

Here are some of the differences I found: This topping comes off a bit chewy, like some honey granola bars. There isn't a lot of liquid in the fruit/sugar mixture, so the texture of the peaches is front and center along with the taste. The honey definitely makes it a different type of sweet. The pecans also give it a bit more flavor that what your brain is expecting. All in all, I like it. The granola taste gives it a breakfast-y kind of option, too. I had some this morning, at room temperature. It was yummy.

Granola Peach Crisp (enough to fill a 2-quart casserole dish)
For the filling:
4-5 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
For the topping:
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp oatmeal
1/4 C Cinnamon Honey Butter, cut into pieces
1/4 C pecan pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the filling ingredients and stir to combine. Pour into baking dish and spread evenly.

In a medium bowl, combine all the topping ingredients EXCEPT the pecans. Use your hands to mix together, incorporating the butter until the topping mixture is a bit lumpy. Crumble topping over the fruit mixture. Sprinkle the top with pecan pieces.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. If you'd prefer, you can serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Excuse My Kanye-like Interruption...


Okay, back to your regular blog-reading programming.


... You got any fruit I can use for a Carmen Miranda hat?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Support Your Local Soccer Player

I do. Every year since 2004 I've had one player or another from the high school girls soccer team show up at my door selling frozen cookie dough as a fundraiser for their soccer team. Well, I'm all over all things cookie. More than that, I'm all about girl power, so every year I've bought over-priced cookie dough. This year is no exception. It arrived last week... and since I no longer have any teenagers living in my house, the frozen dough is still here. Well, at least the box is still here. Let me check. I'll be back in a minute... ... ... Yep, no bites taken out of any of the frozen cookie dough pieces. Ahhh bliss.

I'm going out visiting teaching today with my new teaching partner and my new visiting teaching teachees (I'm sure that's not a word, but I don't know what else to call them). I don't have time to whip up anything from scratch, so Salem Hills soccer players to the rescue... I'm baking up a batch of this frozen Chocolate Chunk Cookie dough. Pretty nifty. Individually frozen pieces all ready to go in the oven. No mess in the kitchen. Of course the taste isn't exactly homemade, but at this point who cares?

They're cookies and they'll be warm when we drop them off. Good enough.

Obviously I don't have a recipe for these, however all of the previous cookie dough recipes I've posted can be frozen and used at your leisure. Just roll them in a long tube shape, wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in your freezer. Voilá. Cookies on demand.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Everything's Peachy

Mr. Doughboy's sister and her husband have moved to Salt Lake City, the closest "big city" to us. They have decided to forego the whole "buying a house with a yard and commuting to work" routine this time around and have decided to have the true urbanite experience -- living in an apartment in the heart of downtown, walking to work and church, riding Trax (public rail transportation) to get anywhere that's not within walking distance. They are taking note of all the events happening within the city and planning their social calendar to try them out.

Last weekend while we visited with them in their apartment, an advertisement came on TV about downtown's annual "Dine-O'Round" event. 31 restaurants in downtown Salt Lake City will offer three-course dinners for $15 or $30 per person. Some eateries also will offer a two-course lunch for $10. Food options include Asian, Italian, Lebanese, American, Austrian and Mexican cuisines, as well seafood, steak and vegetarian fare. It sounds like a really good time. If that sounds like something you might enjoy, check out this link for a list of participating restaurants.

During our get-together, I was in charge of the dessert. Since I've got a bushel of peaches at my house, I figured a quick and easy peach dessert was in order. It was tasty. Later that night, I began to think of other things to do with it. I did a version 2.0 of the same dessert the next night by adding pecans and vanilla ice cream. Mr. Doughboy liked it so much he had seconds. Doughnut Hole #5 was also there and gave his seal of approval.

Here they are all ready to be put in the oven. Please ignore the wicked butter hiding camouflaged amongst the pecans. Trust me, when these come out of the oven and go in your mouth, you will be thrilled there was wicked butter involved.

Caramel Baked Peaches
3 large freestone peaches (peeled and cut in half)
lemon juice
3 tsp butter
2 Tbsp chopped pecans
1/4 C brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
caramel sauce or dulce de leche
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine sugar and cinnamon together. Place the peeled peaches cut side up in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle a bit of lemon juice on each peach. Place 1/2 tsp butter in the center of each peach half. Top the butter with chopped pecans. Sprinkle at least 1 tsp cinnamon sugar on top of each peach. Cover the baking dish and place in oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove peaches from dish and place onto single serving plates. Drizzle dulce de leche or caramel sauce over each peach half. Place a scoop of ice cream alongside the peach. Serve warm.

Note: You can also serve with a dollop of Cinnnamon Whipped Cream or sprinkle granulated sugar on the top after baking and if you have a kitchen torch, use a creme brulee approach and burn the sugar topping just before serving.

Teenagers Are Just Big Kids

Mr. Doughboy and I combined a family when we got married. We each brought three children into the mix. The youngest four children were 14, 13. 11 and 11, respectively. Through the years, we've had a LOT of teenagers in and around our house. Some of them we met one day and didn't see again. But a few of them became regular fixtures just like our own kids.

They're all grown now. This year our two former 11-year-olds turned 18 and graduated from high school. All six of our Doughnut Holes are living on their own. We don't see them on a daily basis anymore. That means their friends don't come around much either. A few of their friends are far away pursuing some of the goals they set for themselves. Yesterday, I found myself thinking of two of them (Garrett and Heston). They were both teenage boys when I met them, so when they came over, they could really pack away whatever food I set out for them to snack on. At first, I thought I could use them as guinea pigs for any new recipe ideas I had. But I soon learned they would eat anything and be happy about it, so I switched over to relying on them to clean out the cupboards and pantry rather than connisseurs of culinary delights.

This Sugar Cookie Bar recipe was one of Garrett's favorites. Garrett is one of my daughter's favorites... who are we kidding? He IS my daughter's favorite. His pictures are all over her wall. The two of them exchange a flurry of letters every week. He's in Washington DC now and won't be back until June 2011. If I can figure out how to package these, I think I might whip up a batch and send them to him. A care package from the "girlfriend's mother"... that might surprise him a bit.
Sugar Cookie Bars (from Real Mom Kitchen)
1 C butter, room temperature
2 C sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
5 C flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla & mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt & soda & stir with a whisk to combine. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased baking sheet (use a 13 x 18 pan). Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 min, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.

1/2 C butter, room temperature
1/2 C shortening
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
4 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp milk
food coloring (if desired)
cake sprinkles, if desired

For frosting combine butter and shortening until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and salt. Add powdered sugar in 1-2 cup increments until combined, then add milk & mix until smooth and spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cookie. Sprinkle cake sprinkles over top, if desired; then cut into bars.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gifts from Old Faithful

My mother has lived in the same house since 1976. I was 14 when we moved there. In the back yard is an apricot tree. I don't know how old the house is, but it was probably around 10 years old when my parents bought it. That would make that tree close to 43 years old now. It has been quite a large tree for a very long time. Large enough for my mom and dad to put a toddler swing on one of its boughs so that my nieces could swing from its branches. Large enough to produce ample shade for family barbeques and backyard picnics. It had lights strung on it for my backyard wedding reception lo those many years ago. All in all, a wonderful family tree.

It has gotten a little crotchety in its old age. It still produces apricots. Bumper crops of apricots. But every now and then, it will take a year off. Not send out a single blossom. Not produce a single fruit. My mom never knows from one early spring to the next whether she will be handing out bags of apricots to her neighbors that year or not. We just wait for the tree to make up its mind. And we deal with the results either way.

Well, this year... a bumper crop again!!! Now, I am not an apricot person. I don't eat them raw. I don't like them in galettes or cakes. However... apricot jam... that's another story entirely. Especially my mom's apricot jam. Slather that baby all over a piece of toast and I am happy as a pig in mud.

We went home to Mom's during the summer and she graciously gave me four pints of her homemade apricot jam -- which I promptly left behind in all the hustle and bustle of packing the car for the return trip. Weeping. Wailing. Gnashing of teeth. But, lucky me, my dear dear friend traveled to my hometown last weekend. Mom sent up my abandoned (but not forgotten) pints of jam, as well as 30 empty quart canning jars (yeay Mom!) with my save-the-day friend.

Aren't these beautiful? Don't they just make you want to go find a loaf of bread and toast it all up? Or homemade dinner rolls? Yes, these jars are crying out for some Parkerhouse rolls.

My mom just uses the recipe she got off of the pectin box.

Apricot Jam
5 cups prepared fruit (about 3-1/2 lb. fully ripe apricots)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1 box Fruit Pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine

BRING boiling-water canner, half-full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain jars well before filling.

FINELY chop unpeeled apricots. Measure exactly 5 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Stir in lemon juice.

STIR pectin into prepared fruit in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Bring to full rolling boil and boil 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Breaking Bread - Citrus Style

So today I brought home a bushel of peaches from my favorite local orchard. You would think I would do something with all those peaches. But, instead, I looked over at my countertop and saw one remaining orange. I opened my refrigerator door and heard the container of ricotta cheese calling my name. (Okay, actually it was shouting "One week until my expiration, Flake. You might wanna do something about that!") So, I did what any budget-conscious Pastry Flake would do... I made Orange Bread.

I really enjoy this recipe. But, then again, I'm the one that always wants to give oranges equal time when I mix up cinnamon roll dough. I nosh down on Orange Rolls just as easily as Cinnamon Rolls.

Normally, I'd rather NOT post pictures of food gone awry, but today I'm making an exception. Even though the bread tastes divine, I didn't keep a close enough eye on it during the second rise (alright, alright, I admit it. I was Facebooking and lost track of time), so the loaf was larger than it should have been. When YOU make this bread, my young padawans (since you will do it correctly and adeptly), it should come out of the pan in a wreath shape. It makes it easier to slice that way. My loaf ended up... well... like a round loaf, so the slices end up with the shape of triangular servings of a layer cake. Oh well... it all eats the same.
Glazed Orange Bread
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 C warm water
1/2 C warm whole milk
1/2 C fresh orange juice
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 1/2 - 3 3/4 C bread flour
1 egg, lightly beaten (for brushing dough)

1 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 - Tbsp fresh orange juice

In the bowl of your electric mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until foamy (about 10 minutes). Stir the warm milk, orange juice, sugar, ricotta cheese, orange zest, salt and egg into the yeast mixture. On low speed, using the paddle attachment, beat 2 cups flour into the yeast miture until a wet dough forms. Beat in the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until a stiff dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add more flour to the surface as needed to prevent sticking. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let proof in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Grease a 10-inch springform pan.

Punch down the dough. Turn out onto a lightly floursed surface and knead for 2 minutes. Divide the dough into three equal ieces. Roll each piece into a 20-inch rope. Braid the ropes together. Coil braided dough in the prepared pan; tuck ends under. Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rise until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the dough with egg wash. Bake until the top of the bread is golden brown about 20-25 minutes. Turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool slightly.

Prepare the icing: In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar and orange juice until smooth. Spread icing over warm bread. Serve warm.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Grandma... birthdays are fun."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Homegrown, Homemade, Home-Canned

I like to think of myself as hip and happenin'... however, I have a confession: I love to can my own fruits, jams, tomatoes and salsa. This year, I'm extending myself beyond what I normally do, and I'm going to be inventing some original (well, original to me anyway) vinegars, chutneys, and sauces.

I have a cold storage room in my basement with shelves in it. On those shelves, you will find the fruits of my labors (pun intended). There are peaches, rasberry and blackberry jams, and apple pie filling. By the end of next week, there will also be nectarine preserves, Amish sweet ketchup, some lusty tomato sauces, diced tomatos and salsa.

There's a fun story behind the apple pie filling. I went to buy apples from a fruit stand across the street from our town's high school. The nice man there told me his daughter-in-law had a recipe for apple pie filling that was very easy to bottle. So... thinking of a winter with apple crisps, apple bettys, apple cobblers and apple pies, I gladly accepted the recipe and bought a bushel of apples. (He's a sly one, you know... I had only stopped in for a bag of apples.)

Having the filling all ready to go makes for a quick dessert when unexpected company comes into town. Pour the bottle into a baking dish, mix up a topping for Apple Crisp and throw it in the oven. Served warm with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce... well, it's simply heaven on earth.

Apple Pie Filling (for canning)
4 cups sugar
1 cup cornstarch
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 drops yellow food coloring
enough peeled and sliced apples to fill 6 quart jars (I used a combination of Jonagold and Jonathan apples)

Mix together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Heat 10 cups water to boiling; add sugar mixture and stir till dissolved. Then add the lemon juice and food coloring. Heat until thickened. Pour into 6 quart jars filled with peeled and sliced apples. Process jars in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

Note: if you use an Apple Peeler/Slicer/Corer, getting the apples in the jars is a lot quicker and easier. Time was of the essence for me, so this is the route I chose. However, the slices will be a lot thinner than normal. If you prefer thicker slices, you'll have to do it by hand. Next year, I'll budget my time better and go for the thicker slices of apple.)

I did a whole bushel's worth. I was done in about 1 1/2 hours time. I ended up with a total of 20 quarts. (I did some pint jars as well to be used with smaller serving cobblers and crisps.) Over time, the liquid separates a bit in the bottles. But that's okay. When you use the filling, simply drain off the clear liquid before you put it in the pan or pie shell. We've used this for apple cobblers, apple crisps and an apple pie. They all turned out delicious. Can't wait for another winter evening with a fire in the fireplace and the smell of apple pie in the oven.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dressing Up Leftovers

Leftover frosting. Both my favorite chocolate frosting and some dulce de leche frosting. Did you have a mom or a grandma that put leftover frosting on graham crackers and made graham cracker sandwiches? I did. So did Mr. Doughboy. I used to do that for my kids as well. But now our Doughnut Holes are 27, 24, 21, 19, 18 and 18 respectively. (Here's a riddle: the two 18-year-olds are not twins. They are a day apart.) So, I'm thinking graham cracker frosting sandwiches wouldn't be high on their favorite dessert list.

My solution for Sunday dinner's dessert was to make a chocolate cake. I put the dulce de leche frosting in the center and then frosted the top and sides with the chocolate frosting. It was ruled a hit by those that ate it (none of whom happened to be our children).

This chocolate cake recipe ranks right up there for taste, crumb and height. It is dense and rich with flavor. It tastes best if you make it the day before and give the flavors a chance to ripen.

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever
4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 C unsweetened cocoa (best quality you've got)
1 C unsalted butter, softened
2 C sugar
2 large eggs
2 Tsp vanilla extract
1 C sour cream
1 C hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil two 9-inch round cake pans. Line them with parchment paper and then grease and flour the paper.

In either a medium bowl or on top of a piece of wax paper (my preference), sift the flour, baking soda and cocoa together; set aside. In a separate bowl, using your electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar until it is pale yellow and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating until they are well incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the sour cream and the hot water. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.

Divide the batter between the pans. When filled, tap the pans sharply one time on the counter to release any air and settle the batter. Bake in the center of the oven for about 45-50 minutes or until the cakes are puffed and spring back when lighly touched.

Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool. When they are cooled, remove them from the cake pans. Trim the domed top off of one layer so that it is flat. Invert that layer on a serving plate so that the cut side is down. Frost the top of that layer using whatever frosting you desire. Place the second layer of cake, domed side up, on top of the first. Cover it with the remaining frosting. This cake is best served the next day.

Note: Because I was making this cake to use up leftover frosting, I used a dulce de leche frosting in between the layers and My Favorite Chocolate Frosting on the top and sides. To enhance the subtle dulce de leche flavor, I also placed three tablespoonfuls of dulce de leche (not the frosting, but actual dulce de leche) on top of the batter in each cakepan and swirled it with a knife to incorporate it into the batter before baking.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Heat Never Ends

So, it's September... and it's still hot. Too hot. I'm about ready for that crisp feel in the air that says apples (er... I mean, autumn) is coming. But... it's still hot as blue blazes. I need something to help me cool off. I'm a little tired of ice cream. So I decided to switch to sorbet.

When I went berry picking crazy last month and brought home 12 pounds of blackberries, I made some of them up into a blackberry sauce that will keep through the winter. This sauce can be used for lots of things like sorbets, granitas, souffles, syrups, etc. I thawed out a container of the sauce and made up some sorbet. We have the monthly whole family get together this week and if this heat continues, it'll be nice to have a light, cool sorbet for after dinner.

I, unfortunately, don't have an ice cream maker of my own. However, it pays to have foodie friends. Rookie Cookie loaned me her mother's (HenPecks) ice cream maker. Of course, Rookie has one of her own, but she claims it's all packed away in a box in the garage. (That... or she doesn't trust me with it. She was over here a month ago learning how to make croissants, and I'll bet the way she saw me beat butter with a rolling pin made her a little leary to loan me anything of value.) Anyway, I'm here to report that the machine worked just fine and the sorbet is delicious. The complex fruit base gives it a depth of flavor that leaves all the grocery store sorbets tasting flat and mass produced.

Blackberry Sorbet (adapted from Desserts by the Yard)
2 C warm Prohibition-Style Blackberry Sauce
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
scant 1/8 tsp salt

Make the sorbet base by stirring together the above ingredients in a large bowl. Pour it into an ice cream maker and churn according to the maker's instructions. The maker I used took about 25 minutes. When done, remove from ice cream maker and place into a freezer container. Freeze for a minimum of 4 hours before serving. This sorbet will last about 3 months in the freezer -- not that you have to worry about that. Trust me... it won't be around in 3 months.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I think Grandpa's birthday cake is a fire hazard."

"Don't worry, Mae. Grandpa has it under control."

"Wow. How did he do that?"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

All Things Beefy

We look forward to summer barbecues around here. It keeps the heat and mess out of the kitchen. I, for one, am not really a hamburger kinda girl though. I'd much rather have a steak. I think it comes from having lived in Argentina for a total of two years of my life. You haven't lived until you've tasted Argentine beef. My my my. Oh to be back in Buenos Aires and eating at La Estancia Restaurant on Calle Corrientes... or was it Calle Florida? Now I can't remember. But I remember the beef. I remember walking into the carnecerias and asking for cuts of bife de lomo or churrasco. Yeah, in case you haven't guessed... there's not an ounce of vegetarian leanings in me.

So, it's now established. I love all things beef. When we barbecue, I have a favorite marinade I use as well. I don't even know where I got the recipe-- it's been in my recipe file for so long. And now I'll share it with you... just in time for your Labor Day barbecue. C'mon now... don't wimp out and grill hamburgers. Get yo' beautiful self down to the butcher and snag some good cuts of beef and do the barbecue right!

My Favorite Steak Marinade
1 1/2 C water
3/4 C soy sauce
1/4 C Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried parsley flakes (of course use fresh if you have it)
1 tsp dried thyme (same comment as above)
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp pepper

This makes enough marinade for about 2 1/2 - 3 pounds of steak. Put the steaks in a large resealable plastic bag. Combine all marinade ingredients and pour over the steaks. Seal the bag and refrigerate at least 4 hours. (When I'm on the ball, I make this up with enough time that the steaks marinate overnight.) Turn the bag occasionally so as to make sure all the meat gets the benefit of the marinade. When you're ready to grill, remove the steaks from the bag and discard the marinade. (Weep while you do this since you know you are casting aside such wonderful flavor.) Grill your steaks according to preferences: 6-8 minutes per side for rare, 8-10 for medium or 11-13 for well-done.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Am Not an Alcoholic -- Or Even a Social Drinker

So... I don't keep alcohol in my home. That ended up being a bummer when I had long hair and needed beer cans to give it big waves and body. It also ends up challenging when a recipe calls for some sort of alcohol and I have none. Not only do I not have any, I live on a mountain. Going to the store takes time and planning. I can't just "run down to the corner market." Besides that, I live in a state that only sells alcohol in state-run liquor stores. I think the closest one is three towns away. In addition to all that, I've read that "the alcohol burns out during cooking" is a myth. So... since I don't drink alcohol, I've also made the decision not to cook with it.

What to do. What to do... when a glorious recipe for fruit bases includes alcohol. The answer? Find substitutions. So I have.

This recipe for Blackberry Sauce is a non-alcoholic version of Blackberry-Merlot sauce. I used it this week to make both Blackberry Sorbet and Blackberry Granita. A Blackberry Souffle is planned for next week. Can't wait! This sauce is AMAZING! It's so good, I think during wintertime, I'll warm it up, throw in a couple cinnamon sticks and drink it to warm my bones.

Prohibition-Style Blackberry-Merlot Sauce (adapted from Sherry Yard)
3 lbs fresh blackberries (you can also use the frozen kind)
2 peeled oranges, sliced
1 peeled lemon, sliced
1 C sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 1/2 C water
1 C Cran-Cherry juice* (or Cran-Pomegranate)
3 C grape juice*
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 C + 2 Tbsp raspberry syrup**
1/4 tsp Kosher salt

Bring berries, oranges, lemon, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, water, and juices to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Microwave the cinnamon sticks for 15 seconds to release the oils in them. Add sticks to the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover tightly and let the flavors infuse for about a half hour.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice. (I use my largest Tupperware bowl.)

After 30 minutes, place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium-sized bowl and pour the blackberry mixture into the strainer. Firmly press out the juices. When finished, place the bowl over an ice bath and let mixture cool completely. When cool, add the raspberry syrup and salt; stir to combine.

Store the sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze it for up to 3 months.

*For any who, like my friend Shelley at Creative Cooks of Chugiak, believe that wine is the "other" fruit juice, you can substitute Merlot for both the grape and cherry juice in this recipe.

**For any who, like my friend Shelley
at Creative Cooks of Chugiak (who by now is likely smiling with Merlot happiness), want to add even more "spirit" to your desserts, you can substitute Chambord for the raspberry syrup. -- Just don't drunk dial me to tell me how delicious it is.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Collect Moose (and Mousse)

No, really, I do. I used to collect penguins, but since moving to the great American wilderness and having elk, deer, coyote, and cougar walk through my back meadow, I seem to have shifted over to admiring a different ecosystem now. I have become entranced with moose. So, now I collect them. I have moose mugs, moose Christmas decorations, stuffed toy moose (we're not talking taxidermy here like a toy poodle), carved wooden moose,... well, you get the picture.

Hint to gift-givers: If you're ever at a loss as to what to give me, you can never go wrong with a moose. Or MOUSSE for that matter. I love that, too.

Chocolate, caramel, marionberry, ginger, pumpkin, mango, and likely any other kind you could dream up. Light and rich at the same time. Smooth and satisfying. So wonderful! Some mousse recipes use raw egg; others don't. So I decided to include a recipe of each. Some mousse recipes use a ganache base; others use a straight chocolate base. So, again, in this post I'll include one of each.

White Chocolate Mousse with Sweet Berries
1 C white chocolate ganache
3 large eggs, separated - at room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 C heavy cream
4 C assorted fresh raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc.
6 macaroon cookies, crushed (for garnish)

Melt the ganache in a microwave in 30-second intervals. Don't worry if the ganache separates. It'll come back together when you add the eggs. Set aside to cool. In a separate bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, whip the egg whites until they are frothy and large bubbles appear. Add the cream of tartar. Continue to whip until soft peaks form. The peaks should barely hold their shape. Slowly add the sugar, beating as you go. Take about 30 seconds or so to add all the sugar into the egg mixture. Whip until the mixture reaches medium peaks. Set aside. It is very important that you do NOT beat the whites until stiff peaks form. The whites will be too dry at this stage and you will not be able to fold in the remaining ingredients without losing the form of the mousse.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it reaches soft peak stage. Then refrigerate it while you continue with the recipe. Whisk the egg yolks by hand and pour them into the warm ganache. Stir them together. Now gently fold in the egg whites, using a wide rubber spatula. It's okay if some lumps remain. When you add the cream, they will incorporate into the mixture. Remove the whipped cream from the refrigerator and very gently fold it into the mousse mixture.

Pour the mousse into serving dishes and refrigerate for at least one hour. Just before serving, top each serving with assorted berries (I used blackberries and raspberries). Crush the macaroons and sprinkle the crumbs on top of the berries and mousse. Serve.

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse
1/3 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 2 oz semi-sweet solid chocolate, chopped into small pieces)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, divided
2 tablespoons raspberry syrup
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
fresh raspberries for garnish (optional)
chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)

In a medium bowl heat the chopped chocolate, the 2 tablespoons heavy cream and the syrup in the microwave at 30 second intervals, whisking in between, until melted and smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the remaining cream, powdered sugar, almond, and vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixture until soft peaks form. Remove 1/2 cup of the whipped cream and beat it into chocolate mixture by hand until well blended. Now transfer the chocolate mixture into the remaining whipped cream and carefully fold it in until no white streaks remain.

Divide into serving dishes and chill for at least one hour. Garnish with raspberries and chocolate shavings, if desired. Makes four servings.

Ganache with Panache

There are myrriad flavors and uses for ganache. Some ganache will have a strong chocolate taste. Others are infused with flavors like berry or citrus. Ganache can be used to frost or glaze a cake or as a filling for many different kinds of desserts. Some even use a ganache base for hot cocoa drinks. The consistency and thickness of ganache can be modified based on what delicious treats you are creating it for.

I love white chocolate. So, here is my favorite White Chocolate Ganache recipe.

White Chocolate Ganache from Sherry Yard
8 oz white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
4 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 C heavy cream
1 Tbsp light corn syrup

Put chocolate pieces and butter in medium bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Cover the bowl and let sit for one minute. Use a rubber spatula, slowly stir the mixture until the chocolate is melted. Let cool.
You can keep the ganache in the fridge for up to two weeks. Whenever you need it, simply reheat it in the microwave and then let it cool until it is whatever consistency you need.

Sherry Yard suggests you can infuse the cream with lots of different things for a variety of tastes, including 1 Tbsp lavender flowers, or 1 Tbsp honey, or 1 Tbsp sliced fresh ginger. You can also add 1 Tbsp rum, Grand Marnier or other liquors to the ganache as well. Just add them at the end after the chocolate mixture has been well incorporated.