May 13, 2013 § 14 Comments
A few weeks ago I was working on a photo shoot with my friend Heather Skelton who is the cooking book editor at Thomas Nelson Publishing/Harper Collins. We were shooting a recipe that called for fresh apples. I quickly made up this “Apple Butter Jam” with the leftovers grabbing my iphone to take a few photos as I worked. This recipe calls for 4 ingredients and can be completed from start to finish in about 1 hour without any fuss. This same recipe could be done with pears or plums as well. The fresh lemon makes it especially good.
Here are the ingredients:
5 Tart Apples, cored, peeled & sliced
1 Meyer Lemon, sliced, seeds removed (any lemon will work)
Add both ingredients to a cooking pot along with 1/2 cup Agave Nectar or Honey & 1/2 cup water.
Bring mixture to a slow boil. Reduce heat to very low. Stir every now and then. You can do some other things, such as have a cup of tea, read a book or just meander around your house thinking lofty thoughts. In about 45 minutes to an hour this is what it all looks like. Thick, glossy and yummy. Not too sweet, not too tart.
Spoon slightly cooled Apple Butter Jam into glass jars. Add a lid and store in the fridge. It really is as “easy as that”.
Hot buttered toast with Apple Butter Jam.
April 25, 2013 § 24 Comments
“Dutch Baby with Fresh Carolina Peaches”
This week as we are about to embark on a trip to The Netherlands I was reminded of one of the things I love to eat when traveling there, Pannekoeken, Dutch Pancakes….Dutch Babys. This is a post I wrote last summer in honor of these lovely light & airy pancakes that I love to eat while sitting alongside a canal watching the world float by.
A couple of Sunday mornings ago it was one of those extraordinary dawns for early summer in Nashville. A bit chilly, the sun dappling through the trees, a cup of steamy hot coffee and the newspaper, nothing pressing..nothing to do…these times cry out for a quick & easy Dutch Baby for breakfast.
Dutch Babys are essentially puffy pancakes. They are easy and quick. They come out of the oven very puffy and quickly deflate. They are very delicious hot out of the oven savory or sweet, with fresh fruit or thick slices of crispy bacon. To the best of my knowledge Dutch Babys are not from The Netherlands, but from Germany…go figure?
If you have never made one of these beauties then you must. It is foolproof and fun. Kids love them..big and little kids.
Sitting on our kitchen table was a wooden bowl of perfectly ripe South Carolina peaches. The downtown Farmer’s Market had just gotten them in by the bushels & baskets. Soft & fuzzy on the outside, juicy & sweet on the inside.
Recipe for a Dutch Baby Pancake
1/3 cup raw sugar mixed with the zest of 1 lemon
2/3 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg & 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
1/2 stick butter, softened
Raw Sugar for dusting + Lemon wedges
Fresh ripe peaches peeled & cut into slices
1. Turn oven to 450 degrees. Place a 10 to 12 inch cast iron skillet in oven to preheat with oven.
2. In an electric blender beat eggs until frothy. Add milk, flour mixture & vanilla to blender and beat until well blended.
3. Remove hot skillet from oven and add butter. It will sizzle & melt quickly.
4. Pour batter into skillet quickly and place in oven. Bake for about 20 minutes until pancake is golden brown and puffy.
5. Sprinkle pancake with the sugar-lemon zest mixture. Serve piping hot with slices of fresh peaches, lemon wedges to squeeze over pancake slices & additional raw sugar to top.
Dutch men named Wouter love Dutch Babys!
A little gallery of peaches:
April 15, 2013 § 16 Comments
“The Day the Welfare Man Came”
As if it happened yesterday I can see my Mother open the front door of our little house in West Tennessee for the Welfare Man. He followed her into the kitchen, his arms loaded with paper bags full of groceries. He sat them gently on the table. The light in the room was dim as I quietly and with shame watched from the doorway. As an adult I can only imagine the shame & sadness my Mother must have felt.
My father was off on one of his sporadic “disappearances” and we were left with no money for food. I do not know at what point my Mother broke down and made that phone call for help, but she did and the Welfare Man consquently stood awkwardly in our little kitchen, arms full of groceries. She did what she had to do to feed us. All I wanted at that moment was to feel not hungry, not to be ashamed and not to be sad.
This is how millions of people in America feel every day who do not have the resources to feed themselves or their families.
There are so many things we who have resources can do to help others and to educate ourselves about hunger in America.
Click on this site:
to learn more about what you can do to help and to see a clip from the new film “A Place at the Table”. You can find out from this site simply by entering your zip code after clicking on “Take Action”, events and needs in your area. Write your senators & congressmen, local politicians & officials to let them know that you, as a voting citizen, care deeply about this issue.
We should all have a place at the table without an empty plate.
March 20, 2013 § 16 Comments
The first day of Spring and Figs usually do not have a lot in common. But this first Day of Spring world’s collided when I found a bag of whole figs, fresh-frozen at the end of last summer and forgotten….buried underneath jars of homemade tomato sauce, pesto, bags of New Mexico chile peppers, my ice cream freezer canister & some pizza dough! Totally hidden away to be found this morning while I was cursorily cleaning it all out. Spring Cleaning. Get it?
Now I could in no way consider tossing these figs out. There was no freezer burn. They looked like they had been frozen yesterday. Rich, deep colors still intact. Jam the figs!
Recipe for figs jammed on the first day of Spring. You will need:
1. Two pounds frozen whole figs (or any other frozen whole fruit or fresh fruit) tossed with 1 cup white sugar & 1 cup turbinado or raw sugar in a non-reactive pan.
2. Cover pan with plastic wrap and allow to sit for about 6 hours unrefrigerated. The sugar will dissolve and the fruit will break-down somewhat creating quite a bit of juice.
3. Put figs & syrupy juice in a non-reactive cook pot. Stir into pot 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, 1/2 cup pear flavored liqueur & 1/4 cup chopped mild to medium hot New Mexico Chile peppers (fresh, canned or frozen).
4. Bring ingredients to a low boil, turn to simmer and cook, stirring often, until liquid is reduced somewhat and thickened. While jam is thickening get your canning jars ready. Wash in very hot soapy water, rinse well & dry in a low temp oven until ready to fill. Place lids and rings in a pan of softly boiling water over low heat until ready to put onto jars.
5. Carefully fill glass jars with jam to about 1 inch from the top of the jar. Dry lids and rings with a clean cloth and top each jar, tightening gently.
6. Allow jam jars to cool completely. Will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Freeze for later use (make sure they don’t get hidden!) or give as surprise Spring gifts!
What might you have “hidden” in your freezer that you could give new life to?
Welcome long awaited Spring, welcome.
March 5, 2013 § 19 Comments
It’s Easter time, the Peeps have hatched. They are everywhere I look and there are many imposters …purple & green, pink & blue..have you ever in your life seen anything other than a yellow chick? Rabbit Peeps? Really! Peeps are Peeps. That’s it. Last word.
This year I played around and came up with this simple s’mores idea using Peeps. Here is what you will need:
A package of Peeps, Chocolate Graham Crackers, Semisweet or Bittersweet Baking Chocolate
1. Turn on oven Broiler. Lay an even number of Chocolate Graham Cracker squares out on baking sheets. Top half of squares with a piece of Chocolate & the other half with a Peep laying on its side.
2. Set rack at the lowest part of the oven & place baking sheet in oven. Leave for about 5-7 minutes or until Peeps are puffy and chocolate is melted. Remove pan from oven. “Sandwich” Peeps & chocolate covered graham crackers together pressing gently.
There are many ways to eat a Peep. One of my favorites is the “air-dried crunchy Peep”. You just let them sit around uncovered, out of their packaging, for a few days. This adds a layer of crunch right before you get to the soft marshmallow insides. Try it.
They are also delicious floating & melting on a cup of steamy hot cocoa. This will make you smile and if you have children or know any children then do this for them and they will smile.
Peeps like to decorate the tops of cupcakes as well.
What is your favorite way to eat a Peep? Do you eat imposter Peeps? Halloween & Christmas Peeps! Did you know that there are 30,900,000 results if you Google Peeps? Why do you think companies take a good idea, a special treat idea that you looked forward to once a year and made versions for all year long? If you can get something all the time is it special anymore?
Let me know what you think. Meanwhile, Eat a Peep.
February 18, 2013 § 25 Comments
Hold On! Do Not Panic! This is not a giant red asteroid about to hit the earth!
It is, on the other hand, a very close-up iphone photo of a Texas Rio Star Grapefruit that I just turned into the most delicious upside down cake.
Last year about this time I was writing about Blood Oranges and baking little tartlets. This year I have turned to Texas Rio Star Grapefruits & Upside-Down Cakes. Deep winter is the only time I can find these ruby red-orange grapefruits in our local markets.
An Upside-Down Cake is such a classic and simple, homey & cozy dessert…the perfect foil for this jewel of the citrus world.
This recipe was inspired by a recipe for upside-down Blood Orange Cake I saw in The New York Times, Wednesday, January 16, 2013 in an article by Melissa Clark. Here is my version using Texas Rio Star Grapefruits .
Here is what you will need:
1 1/2 stick of Butter softened + 1/2 stick for baking pan
2/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 TBSP freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 cup White whole-wheat Flour
1 cup Yellow Cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
Generous pinch of Sea or Kosher Salt
1 cup Raw Sugar
1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1 TBSP grated Rio Star Grapefruit peel
1 TBSP Vanilla Extract
Here is how you make this cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the 1/2 stick butter over medium heat in a 10 inch iron skillet. Remove from heat. Stir the dark brown sugar & lemon juice into the melted butter. Set aside.
2. Slice off the top and bottom of each of the Grapefruits. Cut the peel & pith away from the Grapefruit. Cut peeled Grapefruit into 1/4″ circles. Remove any seeds.
3. Arrange Grapefruit slices over the bottom of the iron skillet covering the butter-sugar-lemon juice mixture.
4. In a bowl mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder & salt with a whisk. Using a mixer, blend together in a large mixing bowl the 1 1/2 stick softened butter & raw sugar. Scrape down side of bowl when needed. Add eggs one at a time mixing well between each addition. Add zest, yogurt & vanilla extract. Add flour mixture by 1/2 cupfuls at a time to the butter-sugar-egg mixture until well mixed. Do not over-mix. Batter will be thick. Scrape batter into the skillet over the grapefruit slices spreading out to edges and smoothing top of batter.
5. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the center is set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake for a few minutes in the pan.
6. Invert cake upside-down on a large plate or platter and serve warm or at room temperature.
Here, have a bite….
This is a very moist cake, with a slight bit of crunch from the cornmeal, very citrusy and not too sweet. The colors are to die for and will make you very happy in these dark days of February.
Drink it or eat it, but get some Vitamin C however you can!
January 22, 2013 § 15 Comments
“Chocolate Brazil Nut Butter Spread”
I love nut butters…peanut butter, almond butter, my beloved Nutella ……all on toast of course…..come to think about it there is really not much I do not like if it is lavishly spread on toast …..but, I digress…most store-bought nut butters have quite a bit of sugar in them which is what I do not especially like. Using some Brazil Nuts, Cashews & Pistachios I recently made some delicious nut butters where I could control the sugar and flavors…as well as the texture….it’s as “easy as this”.
A simple recipe for “Chocolate Brazil Nut Butter”
1. Process 2 cups of Shelled Brazil Nuts in a food processor until somewhat smooth. I like my nut butters a bit grainy and not absolutely smooth. Just do it however you prefer.
2. To food processor add 1/2 cup good quality dark unsweetened cocoa. Pulse to mix.
3. Sprinkle in pinch, or more, of cayenne pepper to add some zip.
4. Add 1/4 cup raw sugar to processor. Process until smooth
5. Spoon finished Brazil Nut Butter into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Rich creamy chocolate, buttery from the nuts, slightly sweet with just a little “bite” from the cayenne this spread is perfect with thin slices of white cheddar, spooned into bite-size tart shells for a dessert, or simply smeared on crusty toasted slices of bread.
It’s as “Easy as This”!
For making Cashew or Pistachio Nut Butters just follow the same basic technique. These nuts are not quite as fatty as Brazil Nuts so if they are a bit too dry after processing just drizzle in a bit of walnut or canola oil to make a smoother nut butter.
“Cashew Nut Butter”
“Pistachio Nut Butter”