Rabbits-Love-Rainbow Carrots with Maple-Balsamic-Orange Glaze….Don’t They? E.A.T #28

I think I might be part rabbit…my ears are kinda pointy….I twitch my nose at good and bad smells…I have been accused of hopping around all over the place…not to mention my affinity for carrots. I like them shredded, cut into coins, added to soups and salads, fresh from the ground with a little bit of dirt still clinging to them and roasted lightly glazed with a quick maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and fresh orange juice concoction. Spring carrots tender and sweet lend themselves to such a simple, easy-as-this, recipe. A very appropriate addition to an Easter dinner.

One bag each of large and/or small, easy to find and trendy rainbow carrots sliced down the middle from top to bottom, tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with Flower Pepper from Food Sheriff and flakey Maldon sea salt…..a great finger food or side dish. Roasted, glazed and served garnished with toasted, chopped pecans. It’s as easy-as-this.

Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Happy Life.

Rainbow Carrots with a Maple-Balsamic-Orange Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 bags of rainbow carrots, any size, tops trimmed and peeled, cut in half lengthwise
  • olive oil, a few tablespoons
  • Flower Pepper or any other good freshly ground pepper
  • flakey sea salt such as Maldon
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • the juice from one small orange
  • Garnish – toasted and chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Turn oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss prepped carrots in olive oil and spread out on one or two baking sheets.  Season with pepper and salt to taste.
  3. Roast for 10 minutes.
  4. While carrots are roasting mix together the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and orange juice.
  5. After 10 minutes remove baking sheet with carrots from the oven and drizzle with half the glaze. Return pan to oven to roast carrots just until “fork-tender”. Remove pan from oven.
  6. Serve carrots with remaining glaze and pecans.

Teresa Blackburn    http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

Brighten Up Your February with a “Maple-Ginger Switchel” Beverage

February is a month of darkness, cold, rain and early sunsets. Some days recently it has seemed like it is dawn or dusk all day long. I have a love-hate thing with February. It should be a time to stay inside, read and be cozy, but work and play call me outside when I really just want to stay at home. February is my time to abstain from some of my Holidays-into-January overindulgence.

Have you ever had a nice glass of “Switchel” over ice with a splash of soda? It has helped me keep my electrolytes in balance, stay hydrated and has definitely replaced a glass or two of wine in the evenings. After a couple of days of drinking Switchel I do think February is feeling better and looking a little bit brighter.

“Switchel” is a word I was unfamiliar with until recently when I ran across it in a novel and did a Google search.  Lo and behold hundreds of articles and recipes for “switchels” were at my fingertips.  The basic old-fashioned recipes, also called “swizzles, ginger-water or haymaker’s punch” and are traditionally cooling summer drinks, have many things I like….apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, fresh ginger,  maple syrup or molasses. These are ingredients that are good for us in so many ways I cannot begin to list them. A bright, refreshing and very thirst quenching beverage to shake up February.

There is a great story about the history of Switchels here at the Smithsonian website. I often drink store-bought Kombucha drinks and after making a batch of Switchel, this is what I’ll be drinking instead! Homemade and less expensive.

Not for everyone….my apologizes to Wouter as he was my Switchel taste tester….watching the “faces” he made while taking a drink my experiments was worth it, but also let me know a few adjustments on my first recipes were needed. More sweetener…real maple syrup…created a more palatable concoction….too sour into just-right sweet. Maybe a bit less fresh ginger juice as it adds a very, very spicy touch. Adjusted and topped with soda water it is a fizzy good beverage.

There is a long history of holistic medicine that includes the benefits of drinking unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and my favorite one is “Braggs”. I have been known to just drink a swig right out of the bottle when I feel a bit sluggish and out-of-sorts. It seems to clear my throat, freshen up my breath and I feel it “clears out the Winter cobwebs” internally.

February Ginger-Maple Switchel

  • Difficulty: very easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 large hand of fresh ginger, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • the juice of one lemon
  • club soda
  • fresh mint leaves if you like

Directions:

  1. Process fresh ginger and 1/3 cup water in a food processor until finely chopped. Strain through a mesh strainer, pressing pulp gently with the back of a spoon to get out all the juice. You should have about 1/2 cup. Pour into a jar or pitcher.
  2. To the pitcher add the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and lemon juice. Stir to mix well. Cover and chill for 1 hour to let flavors meld before drinking.
  3. Add ice cubes to a glass, fill glass a third of the way with “Switchel” and top with soda or plain water. Stir to mix, and top with some fresh mint leaves if you like.

Notes: You can experiment with flavors. I added 1/2 cup blood orange juice to one batch which was delicious.

This recipe is based on the historical readings about “Switchels” and the hundreds of recipes on the internet with my own twists.

Teresa Blackburn      http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

 

 

 

Pear, Maple and Nutmeg Cornmeal Cake + Kitchen Tools #1

Pear, Maple and Nutmeg Cornmeal Cake all dressed up with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt is an easy, alternate idea for Holiday celebrations that will be much appreciated by those looking for something naturally sweet without using a lot of granulated sugar. Rich, almost caramelized, pears with nutmeg then generously drizzled with maple syrup while hot out of the oven is good for a few days warm or cold.

I like how the maple syrup pools in the pear.

There is nothing quite like freshly grated nutmeg. Do you have one of these graters, or a nutmeg grinder? They are inexpensive and will become one of your most used kitchen tools if you, like me, find the jarred ground nutmeg somewhat pale in aroma and flavor. Whole nutmeg grated is a much used spice at our house. Wouter adds it to his meatballs and always in his wonderful mashed potatoes. Just a hint is often all that is needed. This cake recipe calls for a generous amount and is just the thing paired with real maple syrup.

Notice how I grated the nutmeg onto a sheet of parchment paper? Parchment is another “kitchen tool” that I use every day for measuring flour onto, lining cake pans or sheet pans so I don’t have to scrub them so much….small pieces are good for using like this instead of another dish to wash! Can you tell washing dishes is not my favorite thing?

Melon ballers in various sizes are great for coring apples and pears, making melon balls of course….or butter balls.  It was so easy to core the pears to create a bowl to hold all that tasty maple syrup using this small melon baller.

See that wee paring knife? It is my go-to knife for so many jobs in the kitchen…I finally bought a good one that has a thin blade that sharpens well. It was not the cheapest nor the costliest, but it fits my hand just perfect and came from E. Dehillerin in Paris. I picked it up at our local Willliams-Sonoma.

So that’s four kitchen tools….nutmeg grater or grinder, parchment paper, melon baller and paring knife….basics…not trendy…forever useful, especially for these days of seasonal baking.

Warm, aromatic cake drizzled with Vanilla flavored Greek Yogurt. Yum.

Pear, Maple and Nutmeg Cornmeal Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 ripe, but firm pears, halved, cored and peeled
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, divided
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup 2 percent milk
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup, divided + extra for serving
  • 2 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2 cups vanilla greek yogurt, whipped for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9″ round x 2″ deep cake pan with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the melted butter to a cast iron or other heavy skillet. Set over medium heat. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over the butter.
  3. Place pear halves in a circle in the bottom of the pan, cut side up. Sprinkle cut sides with 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn pears over with cut side down. Sprinkle with another 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Cook pears until most of the liquid has evaporated and cut sides are beginning to lightly caramelize, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Place pears, cut sides down, in the prepared 9″ round cake pan.
  6. Quickly whisk together remaining 1/4 ground nutmeg, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  7. Whisk in milk, 1/4 cup maple syrup, eggs and remaining melted butter just until smooth. Pour mixture over pears and bake until golden brown, for about 20-25 minutes. Test with a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake. Remove from oven and using a skewer make a few random holes over the entire cake surface. Drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup. Let cake cool on a wire rack while syrup soaks in for about 15 minutes. Carefully invert onto a serving plate.
  8. Cut cake into 8 wedges with each person getting a pear half, drizzle with another bit of maple syrup and add a dollop of vanilla greek yogurt.  (This cake keeps well for a few days and is deliciously seasoonal either warm or cold.)

(This recipe is adapted from a recipe by Ruth Cousineau from Gourmet Magazine February 2008 that I clipped and saved. I tweaked a few things to make it easier to make. Thanks Ruth for the inspiration.)

Teresa Blackburn    http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com   www.foodonfifth.com

 

Maple Syrup and Sea Salt Roasted Pears

Our pear tree produced its fruit earlier than usual this summer. The pears smallish and hard. Not good for eating out-of-hand, but good for cooking. Over the years I have made many yummy desserts using the bounty of this tree. It is rather a small tree. Some years very laden with fruit, others not. Truly I wasn’t really ready to deal with them this summer. I was so busy working on photo shoots that I did not even notice for a while. The birds and squirrels ate their fair share. That’s okay with me. We got our share as well.

This, of all my pear recipes, is the most simple and perhaps one of my favorites. Cut in half and cored, drizzled with maple syrup and sea salt and slow-roasted until fork-tender.

Served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Pear perfect.

Slow Roasted Pears with Maple Syrup and Sea Salt

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • Small somewhat hard pears, cut in half & cored, peeled or not
  • real maple syrup
  • flaky sea salt such as Maldon
  • Ice cream to serve

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place prepped pears on a parchment lined sheet pan cut side up.
  3. Drizzle generously with maple syrup. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Roast for about 30-40 minutes until pears are fork tender. Remove from oven.
  5. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Note: If you have any leftovers you can freeze to use later in a simple cake.

Teresa Blackburn     http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

Maple Kumquat Marmalade E.A.T. #22

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Sometimes I see an ad for a new gadget or appliance that makes me stop and wonder. Wonder why? Wonder at the desperation to come up with the newest thing to sell to people just “because”. The novelty seems to be the thing in itself.

There is an ad for a refrigerator that is showing up everywhere right now that has a camera(s) inside that connects to your phone.  If you have one of these you can always know what you have, or do not have, on hand to eat. Personally this is just too much information for me. One thing I wonder is if when you open this refrigerator does it take pics of you as well? Could this be another social media app- InstaRefrigerator? Has it come to this? You heard it here first!

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Most days I just open the door of my refrigerator and improvise. Improvised recipes can be the best. Finding “hidden food” in the back of the fridge might even lead to a blog post. I happily found a few cartons of kumquats at the back of my “no-camera” fridge a few days ago. I bought them over the holidays, forgot about them, rediscovered them and made marmalade. Part of the fun was the unexpected discovery of these orange orbs still just as plump as the day I bought them.

A marmalade with three ingredients…seeded kumquats, maple syrup and a pinch of sea salt. It’s as “easy-as-this”.

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Seeding is simple. Cut kumquats in half and seed with a spoon or your fingers. It takes a little time, but can be meditative.

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Thick syrup, softened sweet-tart kumquat marmalade smeared on hearty crusty bread toasted, or not!

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Maple Kumquat Marmalade

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Ingredients:

  • 3 pints of fresh kumquats, rinsed, cut in half and seeded
  • 1 cup real maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Place kumquats and maple syrup in non-reactive pan and bring to a low boil. Turn heat to simmer, stirring often. Cook for about 30 minutes or until kumquats are softened to marmalade consistency and juice has thickened. If necessary add a bit of water to mixture as it cooks down.
  2. Ladle marmalade into glass jars. Store chilled for up to 2 months.

Teresa Blackburn     http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Pumpkin-Maple Biscuits & Karma

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Last week I had a couple of projects going on at home from various clients…recipe developing and testing using canned pumpkin puree and as always happens I ended up with a can opened & partly used…what to do? I find it so hard to toss out food even though a large part of my job as a food stylist has to do with just that! This is the one part of being a food & photo stylist that is hard for me. I grew up in a blue-collar household, poor by today’s standards, and food was not wasted…ever. For some reason when we did not finish our food my Mother always brought up the starving children in India…why India I do not know…but it stuck and every time I toss out food I have that image in my head. Her point was made simply and straightforward.

By the last day of many photo shoots there is always food that has been too handled and left to sit out just too long while being photographed to be eaten. It has to be tossed and this always gives me pause. On the other hand, on most photo shoots we end up taking car loads of food to local food banks. I am hoping that cancels out my bad food karma turning it into good food karma.

So with a half can of leftover pumpkin puree and not wanting to toss into the trash bin,  I tossed it into one of my easy weekend morning go-to recipes for two, now three ingredient biscuits. Deliciously saved and reused.

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“The well” is my favorite part of biscuit-making…learned from my mother it always works to aid in making the most tender biscuits ever.

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Dry ingredients….using a fork…make “the well” by pushing the flour mixture up against the sides of the bowl creating a bowl or “well”. Add wet ingredients all at once…..

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….quickly stir together pulling the dry ingredients into the wet using a fork…don’t try to mix totally… gently and quickly make a “slaggy” dough….

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….dump out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to meld wet and dry together to form a smooth dough…pat out into a circle…fold over and pat out again…repeat about 4 times…patting and folding and patting….

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…cut biscuits straight down…no twisting the cutter and spread out on parchment lined baking sheet…

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…brush tops with maple syrup and bake.

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Warm from the oven smeared with softened butter. Happy Weekend y’all.

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Pumpkin-Maple Biscuits

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, divided
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • softened butter for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the flour, salt & pumpkin pie spice. Use a fork to make “a well” in the middle of the mixture.
  3. Add pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons maple syrup & whipping cream. Using a fork, gently and quickly blend ingredients together. Your dough should not be totally blended.
  4. Dump out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Using your hands fold and knead to create a smooth dough. Pat into a circle, fold over and pat out again and folding and patting out…repeat 4 times lastly patting dough out into a circle about 1/2-3/4 inch thick depending on how you like your biscuits.
  5. Cut out biscuits…taking care to not “twist” the cutter…just cut straight down. Place biscuits on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  6. Brush tops with remaining 2  tablespoons maple syrup. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Biscuits will be light and fluffy with a glazed top and are best eaten warm. They will keep up to one day and can be reheated.

Teresa Blackburn        www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Pumpkin Ginger Scones with a Maple Drizzle

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“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”  Emily Dickinson.

I, for one, love late fall. It is not the anticipation of the Holidays, nor all the hoopla that goes with them, but the foods. Pumpkins for pies & cakes, winter squash, deep reddish-brown sweet potatoes, the aroma of sage…it is finally time to crank up the oven again and bake.

These pumpkin scones I made around Thanksgiving week last year. Recently I pulled out my recipe to make them again. They are easy, seasonal and have some of my favorite baking ingredients for this time of year.

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Pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and a pinch of cardamom. Kerrygold butter and white whole wheat flour.

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A really good quality crystallized ginger from The Ginger People. This really pushed the flavor over the top of goodness.

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The dough is enough to make 2 rounds or 12 scones.

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Pattycake, pattycake & brush with cream……each cut into 6 scones.

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Sanding sugar, pumpkin seeds or pepitas, a drizzle of maple syrup.

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Fresh from the oven with more maple syrup drizzled over the top. Best eaten warm.

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Pumpkin Ginger Scones with a Maple Syrup Drizzle

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup brown/raw sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into small chunks and chilled
  • 1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 1/4 cup sanding sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds/pepitas
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup (divided)

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt & spices.
  2. Add butter chunks and with your fingers or a pastry blender work the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Stir in the chopped crystallized ginger.
  3. In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin and eggs.
  4. Add pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until a dough forms.
  5. Using your hands form the dough into two balls & then flatten both slightly.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment & lightly flour. Place dough rounds on pan.
  7. Flatten and shape each dough round into a 6-7 inch circle, each about 1″thick.
  8. Brush the top of each one with cream. Cut each dough circle into 6 wedges.
  9. Sprinkle tops with sanding sugar & pumpkin seeds. Chill 30 minutes before baking.
  10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Right before baking drizzle tops with half the maple syrup. Bake for about 25 minutes or until scones are golden brown. Check doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center…if needed, bake another 5 minutes.
  11. Drizzle hot scones with the remaining maple syrup. Eat warm.

Notes: These scones could be made with Butternut Squash and use Pecans or walnuts  or dusted with cinnamon sugar.   Teresa Blackburn, Food on Fifth