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Here are the tastingspoons players. I’m in the middle (Carolyn). Daughter Sara on the right, and daughter-in-law Karen on the left. I started the blog in 2007, as a way to share recipes with my family. Now in 2022, I’m still doing 99% of the blogging and holding out hope that these two lovely and excellent cooks will participate. They both lead very busy lives, so we’ll see.

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BOOK READING (from Carolyn):

Have only begun Geraldine Brooks’ brand new book, Horse. Oh my, is it a page turner. Loving it so far. It’s a fictional creation but based on a real racehorse owned by a black man, back in the 1850s. Technically, the story is about a painting of the horse but there are many twists and turns. If you’ve ever enjoyed Brooks’ books in the past, this one won’t disappoint.

The Book of Lost Names, by Kristin Harmel (no, not Hannah). Certainly a little-known chunk of history about a woman who becomes a master forger during WWII to help get Jewish children out of France. Not easy to read, meaning the difficulty of anyone finding the means and place to DO the forgery and right under the noses of the Nazis. Really good read.

Liane Moriarty’s first novel, Three Wishes, follows the travails of adult triplets, so different, yet similar in many ways. Two are identical, the third is not. So alike, and so not. It takes you through a series of heart-wrenching events, seemingly unrelated, but ones that could bring a family to its breaking point and test the bonds of love and strength.

Recently I’ve read both of Erin French’s books, her cookbook, The Lost Kitchen, and since then her memoir, Finding Freedom. About her life growing up (difficult) about her coming of age mostly working in the family diner, flipper burgers and fries (and learning how much she liked to cook). Now she’s a very successful restaurant entrepreneur (The Lost Kitchen is also the name of her restaurant) in the miniscule town of Freedom, Maine. She’s not a classically trained chef, but she’s terrifically creative. See her TV series on Discover+ if you subscribe.

Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. To say that this book stretched my comfort zone is the least of it . . .think about a time in the not very distant future, when global warming has done it’s worst and nearly all animals are extinct. No bird song in the air or fish in the sea. There’s this woman, Franny, who is on a quest to follow the very small, but last migration of arctic terns, who fly from pole to pole each year. She somehow sees this migration as a paean to her own life (of many travails). Is this book a foretelling of what our world will be like?  There’s a lot of angst going on here in this book, with her marriage, with her career, with her perpetual need for travel . . . always needing to go somewhere else other than staying at home and finding peace and happiness there. Then this final, gritty, illegal at-sea voyage trying to find the terns. Very much worth reading if you can stomach the sadness in it. Soul-searching is a common denominator here, but then aren’t a lot of books?

Jo Jo Moyes has a bunch of books to her credit. And she writes well, with riveting stories. Everything I’ve read of hers has been good. This book, The Girl You Left Behind, is so different, so intriguing, so controversial and a fascinating historical story. There are two timelines here, one during WWI, in France, when a relatively unknown painter (in the style of Matisse) paints a picture of his wife. The war intervenes for both the husband and the wife. A German Kommandant enters the picture in this tiny berg in France. Knowing her husband is in a camp, most likely a death camp, she compromises her morals to save the picture and possibly save her husband’s life. Jump to somewhat current day and the painting, which has survived all these years, and is in the hands of a young widow who has an extraordinary connection with the painting. A lawsuit ensues having to do with art stolen by the Nazis and a convoluted trail of how the painting traveled in the intervening years. Even though this was WWI, not WWII, but the law encompasses the past. It’s a heart-wrenching story. There’s a love interest too. Well worth reading. Would make a good book club read.

Memoirs are such fun, especially if you really enjoy/love the author. This was the case as I read Rachael Ray 50, an ode to  her age. So I read online, Rachael discloses more about her personal life in this book than she has done in her many other cookbooks. I really enjoyed reading the book, as she told stories about her growing up, including some of her mother’s recipes and from other family members. She and her family eat tons of pasta, so lots of the recipes I probably won’t prepare, but okay, I still enjoyed reading all the stories.

Eli Shafak’s Island of Missing Trees. This book was just a page turner. If you’ve never read anything about the conflict in Cyprus (the island) between the Turks and the Greeks, you’re in for a big history lesson here. But, the entire story centers around a fig tree. You get into the head/brain/feelings of this big fig tree which plays a very central part of the story. You’ll learn a lot about animals, insects (ants, mosquitos, butterflies) and other flora and fauna of Cyprus. I’m not a gardener at all, but I found the story just fascinating. It chronicles the love story between a young couple, human ones, not trees, one a Greek, one a Turk and their relationship (verboten back in the 70s). It goes back and forth between the 70s (when the real conflict was going on) and current day (2010ish). Loved this book from page one to the last.

If you’re a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro, you’ll find his newest book a league apart. Klara and the Sun. It takes place in the near future when we humans can go to a store and buy an AF (artificial friend). These robotic humanoid “things” have knowledge and personalities. The book follows along as a family buys Klara, an AF with perhaps a better personality than some. She has feelings, but not very many needs. The reader never really “sees” Klara except for a few descriptions of her human-type shape. You get into Klara’s brain (her PC chip) and know how she feels about her family. Her main job is to be a friend to the daughter, Josie, who has some kind of unnamed illness. The AF must spend a part of every day in the sunshine (some kind of hidden solar unit must be within Klara). There are any number of other characters in the story (mostly human, not AFs) which add dimension. I was quite mesmerized by the story and am in awe at the creativity of this author. Loved the book. May not be for everyone. I’m not a science fiction fan at all, but this was believable. And you’ll fall in love with Klara who wants so much to be wanted and loved.

Also read Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. Ohhh my, such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. Whatever you do, do not read the ending before you start the book. I’ve never understood people who do this. The book chronicles the day a mom just ups and disappears. The grown children come back home, in panic. The dad isn’t much help, and he becomes the prime suspect of foul play. There is no body, however. The husband and wife own a tennis school (this takes place in Australia) and the children grow up surrounded by tennis everything. The children don’t necessarily get along. The parents haven’t always gotten along, either, although through many years the parents were quite besotted with each other, to the detriment of the parenting. Much travail from all the family members. But oh what a story. It had me riveted and wondering, until the last 5 pages of so when the resolution occurs. Big surprise.

Amor Towles’ new book, The Lincoln Highway: A Novel. Literally it’s a page turner. I think it’s still on the best seller list. A young man, Emmett, is released from a youth work camp (back in the day) and is returned home (by the camp warden) following the death of his father, to find that the home they’d lived in was in foreclosure. His mother abandoned them years before. His intent is to pick up his 8-year old brother and they will head off for Texas, but then he discovers two of his work-camp-mates had hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Oh my goodness, such a tangled web. Fascinating, and Amor Towles has such a way with words. His sentences are like blooming flower vines, with metaphors in nearly every sentence. Such a gifted writer.

If you’d like a mystery read, try Dete Meserve’s The Space Between. It’s just the kind of page-turner I enjoy – a wife returns to her home after being away on business for a few days, to find her husband missing and what he’s left for her is an unexplained bank deposit of a million dollars, a loaded Glock in the nightstand, and a video security system that’s been wiped clean. Oh there are plenty of twists and turns. Couldn’t put it down.

Read Alyson Richman’s historical novel called The Velvet Hours. Most of the book takes place in Paris, with a young woman and her grandmother, a very wealthy (but aging) woman who led a life of a semi-courtesan. Or at least a kept woman. But this grandmother was very astute and found ways to invest her money, to grow her money, and to buy very expensive goods. Then WWII intervenes, and the granddaughter has to close up her grandmother’s apartment, leaving it much the way it had been throughout her grandmother’s life, to escape the Nazis. Years go by, and finally answers are sought and found. An intriguing book, based on the author’s experience with an apartment that had been locked up similarly for decades, also in Paris.

Susan Meissner is one of my favorite authors. This book, The Nature of Fragile Things tells a very unusual story. About a young Irish immigrant, desperate to find a way out of poverty, answers an ad for a mail order bride. She moves to San Francisco and becomes the bride, and mother to the man’s young child. But all is not right with the world. Sophie senses an undercurrent about her husband’s life. He’s elusive, leaves her alone for days on end, doesn’t share her bed, and she begins to feel the only reason he wanted a wife was to care for the child. Then the world turns upside down with the 1906 earthquake. And then there’s more. . . and more. . . very gripping read.

Also read Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk. You could call this a romance. A young professional, a writer of one successful book, has writer’s block. Then she’s asked to go to Florida to help her mother (from whom she’s mostly estranged) through chemo. She goes, hoping she can find new inspiration. Oh the various twists this book can give you. There’s a guy she meets, but she’s keeping her boyfriend at home on the string, sort of. Then there’s the desk itself, that has history. Oh my, does it have history. Really interesting story, light reading.

One of my book clubs has us reading Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library: A Novel. What a premise for a book. About a library you can whiz to in the middle of the night and discover other lives you could have lived. And experience them. To find out the answers to those questions we ask ourselves sometimes, “I wonder what would have happened if I’d . . . .” taken that other job, gone out with that guy, taken that trip. That kind of thing. You’ll find out what happened to one particular woman who thought she had nothing left to live for. Good read. Very different. A bit space-agey. Sort of time travel, but not really. But yes, maybe.

James Shipman has written an intriguing book, It Is Well: A Novel, about a man who has lost his wife. And about a woman who has lost her husband. But their relationship stalls, big time, because the guy made a promise to his wife, and he feels duty-bound to honor it. There is much angst about it all. Much wringing of hands, some tears on her part. Nice book; good read.

I wrote up a post about this book: Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World: The Twin Towers, Windows on the World, and the Rebirth of New York by Tom Roston. Go read the full write-up if you’re interested. The book is a complete history of the famous restaurant on the 107th floor of one of the Twin Towers.

Also recently finished The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. The book goes backwards and forwards in time, from the 1600s in London with the day-to-day lives of a group of Jews (who had to be very careful about how they worshiped) to current day as an old house is discovered to hold a treasure-trove of historical papers. The story is mostly about a young woman, educated, a Jew, who is the scribe (in secret) to an aging religious leader (in a time when women would have been verboten to hold such a position). And about her own curiosity about her religion and how she eventually begins writing letters (using a male pseudonym) to various Jewish leaders abroad, questioning their religious beliefs. The book is extraordinarily long – not that that kept me from turning a single page! – and complex with the cast of characters from the 1600s and the cast in today’s world of highly competitive experts analyzing the ancient papers. Altogether riveting book. Loved it from beginning to end.

I’m forever reading historical novels. The Lost Jewels: A Novel by Kirsty Manning is a mystery of sorts, going back in time in London in the time of aristocrats and their jewels (pearls, diamonds, gems of all kinds) sometimes made it into the hands of the digger or a maid. Then to current time as a young woman tries to ferret her family history and particularly about some old-old jewelry that they can’t quite figure out – how the grandmother came to have them. Fascinating tale.

Not for the faint of heart, Boat of Stone: A Novel by Maureen Earl tells the true tale of some misplaced Jews at the tale-end of WWII who ended up on Mauritius.

Colleen Hoover has written quite a book, It Ends with Us: A Novel, with a love story being the central theme, but again, this book is not for everyone – it can be an awakening for any reader not acquainted with domestic violence and how such injury can emerge as innocent (sort of) but then becomes something else. There is graphic detail here.

Erin Bartels wrote quite a complex story in The Words between Us: A Novel. We go alongside a young girl as she goes to high school, trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to be anonymous (because her mother and father are both in prison), taking on a fake name. She meets a guy and they share a bond of reading and some romance. Years go by and she’s now owner of a failing independent bookstore (and married, or separated) and suddenly begins receiving a used book (that she recognizes) every day from a different place in the country. A message for sure, but where will it lead? Yes, it’s a romance. Lots of introspection going on. Enjoyed it.

Nicolas Barreau’s novel Love Letters from Montmartre: A Novel  is very poignant, very sweet book. Seems like I’ve read several books lately about grieving; this one has a charming ending, but as anyone who has gone through a grave loss of someone dear knows, you can’t predict day to day, week to week. “Snap out of it,” people say, thinking they’re helping.

Another very quirky book, that happens to contain a lot of historical truth is The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel by Harry N. Abrams. Set in Japan just after the tsunami 10 years ago when 18,000 people died. At a private park miles away, some very special people installed a phone booth, with a phone (that didn’t work) at the edge of the park, and the survivors of the tsunami began wending their way there to “talk” to their deceased loved ones. Very poignant story.

No question, the most quirky book I’ve read of late, a recommendation from my friend Karen, West with Giraffes: A Novel by Lynda Rutledge. Back in the 1930s a small group of giraffes were brought across the Atlantic from Africa to New York, destined for the then-growing San Diego Zoo. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission.

Riveting story of post-WWII- Japan in Ana Johns novel, The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel. About a young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American serviceman.

Also read Rishi Reddi’s novel, Passage West: A Novel with a very different take on the migration of Indians (East India) to the California agricultural lands east of San Diego during the 1920s and 30s.

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Mary Morris book, A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime tells the true day to day life of a young Irish girl who becomes a nurse, in England, France and Belgium in the midst of WWII and immediately after the war.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. Tells the harrowing story of a young boy, Odie, (and his brother Albert) who became orphans back in the 30s. At first there is a boarding school, part of an Indian (Native American) agreement, though they are not Indian. They escape, and they are “on the run.”

Just finished Kristin Hannah’s latest book, The Four Winds: A Novel. What a story. One I’ve never read about, although I certainly have heard about the “dust bowl” years when there was a steady migration of down-and-out farmers from the Midwest, to California, for what they hoped to be the American Dream. It tells the story of one particular family, the Martinellis, the grandparents, their son, his wife, and their two children.

Brit Bennett has written quite a book, The Vanishing Half: A Novel. It’s a novel, yet I’m sure there are such real-life situations. Twin girls are born to a young black woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress.  Very much worth reading.

Also read The Secret of the Chateau: Gripping and heartbreaking historical fiction with a mystery at its heart by Kathleen McGurl. There are two stories here. The historical part is just prior to and up to the French Revolution, and the second in current day as a group of friends purchase a crumbling chateau. Very interesting. I love historical novels like this, and this one in particular does have quite a mystery involved, too.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. It’s about her journey and escape to America.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice joins the Horseback Librarians in the rural south.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, who becomes a shepherd. Not just any-old shepherd – actually a well educated one. He knows how to weave a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Breads, on September 16th, 2022.

Ever wondered why there isn’t more zucchini IN zucchini bread? Read on . . .

A post from Carolyn. Not that I’ve ever spent much time philosophizing about zucchini bread, but when I read the article from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, I knew I needed to make her version. Her write-up on her blog was so funny, I LOL’d. If you need a good hearty laugh, do go to her post about it. And her starting point is why isn’t there more zucchini in zucchini bread? She decided to change that, and for now, at least, until someone else comes up with something better, I’ll be baking this one. I’m too afraid of fiddling with baked goods because of the chemistry of them – the right amount of dry to wet to leavening to baking. I’m glad Deb did!

My friend Sue (Colorado Sue) made the bread when I was visiting them in late April. Sue is careful about sugar because her husband Lynn is a diabetic now, so she used monkfruit in her version – except for the turbinado sugar on top.

Once home from my trip I located the recipe and have now made it myself. If you look carefully at the open slice of bread (pictured, on the right) you can actually see some of the zucchini peeking through. I used monkfruit golden (instead of brown sugar) and monkfruit classic (instead of granulated sugar) when I made it, and it’s just as tasty as making it with the real thing. Sometimes in desserts I can tell it has some type of artificial sugar in it (I get that cooling feeling or texture – can it be called a texture? – after chewing or swallowing) and know. With this, I couldn’t tell. That’s a real big win for my taste buds!

Make this with the real sugar or a combination of artificial ones. In either case, this recipe is a real winner.

What’s GOOD: altogether delicious bread – you can’t taste the extra zucchini, but it’s so moist. A keeper.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Ultimate Zucchini Bread

Recipe: adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen
Servings: 12

2 cups zucchini — grated (13 ounces or 370 grams) packed zucchini, not wrung out, grated on the large holes of a box grater
2 large eggs
2/3 cup neutral oil — safflower(160 ml) olive oil, or melted unsalted butter [I used butter]
1/2 cup dark brown sugar — packed (95 grams) or Monkfruit golden
1/2 cup granulated sugar — (100 grams) or Monkfruit classic
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt — or table salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg — rounded
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour — (260 grams)
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar — (25 grams)

1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. Lightly coat a 6-cup or 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
3. Place grated zucchini in a large bowl and add oil, eggs, sugars, vanilla, and salt. Use a fork to mix until combined. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and baking powder over surface of batter and mix until combined – and then, for extra security that the ingredients are well-dispersed, give it 10 extra stirs. Add flour and mix until just combined.
4. Pour into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the raw or turbinado sugar – don’t skimp. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick or tester inserted into the middle cake but also into the top of the cake, closer to the dome, comes out batter-free.
5. Let cool completely in the pan. Leave in pan, unwrapped, overnight or 24 hours, until removing (carefully, so not to ruin flaky lid) and serving in slices. Zucchini bread keeps for 4 to 5 days at room temperature. I wrap only the cut end of the cake in foil, and return it to the baking pan, leaving the top exposed so that it stays crunchy.
Per Serving: 279 Calories; 13g Fat (42.0% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 37g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 31mg Cholesterol; 305mg Sodium; 21g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 39mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 152mg Potassium; 74mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Appetizers, Breads, on August 10th, 2022.

So very easy, you will hardly believe it. No, there isn’t any lavender in it – Taylor was using photo props to make the picture more beautiful.

A post from Carolyn. My dear granddaughter Taylor will only be living with me for another week or so by the time this recipe posts. Oh sigh. I’ll miss her so much! She made this bread. Four ingredients. During her last clinical hospital work (12-hour shifts at a local hospital, in their post-partum department) she befriended all of the nurses in the department and wanted to do something nice for them on her last day. She’d made this bread before (a recipe from her friend Quinn – thanks, Quinn!), and it’s so very easy.

The dough is mixed up in a stand mixer (with dough hook if possible). I couldn’t FIND my dough hook. (Where in the heck has it disappeared to?) So she used the metal paddle for awhile until it got to be labored in mixing, then she kneaded it a bit by hand. It sat out on the kitchen counter (covered with plastic wrap) for about 15 hours until it had more than doubled in bulk. She punched it down, then formed it into a nice big loaf shape (on the counter is fine, just cover it with a big bowl or a damp tea towel). When she was ready to bake it, she preheated the oven to 450°F AND put the big ceramic Dutch oven into that cold oven so it heated up while the oven did. You could use a cast iron Dutch oven too, or a regular lidded pan – just grease the container so it pops out easily.

Then she very carefully picked up the loaf and put it in the hot-hot Dutch oven, with the lid. It baked for 15 minutes. Then the oven temp is turned down to 350°F for 20-30 minutes. Then you remove the lid from the bread and allow it to bake further for 10 minutes until the crust has turned a golden brown. Once out of the oven you can carefully tip over the Dutch oven to let the bread pop out, then right it and let it sit on a rack until cool. Wait at least an hour before trying to slice it.

She was serving it with artichoke dip, so I cut up the bread for her into thicker slices, then into elongated cubes, about 3/4″ side and 2 inches long. I ate a few edges with a little butter. Yum. I think back to decades ago when I used to bake bread every week (sourdough, with a starter) and the hours it took. This is just so easy to do, letting the overnight rise do all the heavy lifting, so to speak!

What’s GOOD: how easy this is to make, and when fresh and warm, altogether delicious. You could use this as a bread bowl too. Am sure this could be made into 3 smaller boules also as long as you have the containers to do them in. Adjust the baking time, obviously. The bread texture is on the firmer side – this isn’t a tender bread (no fat or milk in it, notice!). So a French style, rustic texture.

What’s NOT: only that you need to be at home when the 12-18 hour window is up, and continue to be there for the 2nd rising and then the baking time.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Easy Overnight Yeast Bread

Servings: 12 (or more)

6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon yeast — not rapid rise
2 teaspoons salt
2 2/3 cups cold water

1. Mix all ingredients well (use dough hook of stand mixer if available). It should come together in a big ball. Place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside (on kitchen counter) overnight and let it rise to double in bulk, about 12-18 hours.
2. Remove dough to a floured surface, sprinkle with some additional flour and knead for a minute, to mold it into a ball shape.
3. Leave dough on the counter, cover with a dampened tea towel or a huge bowl, and let it rise until the dough has risen for 1 1/2 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a Dutch oven (with lid) in the oven and allow it to heat as the oven heats up. Once oven reaches temperature, remove Dutch oven, remove lid and carefully transfer dough inside. Replace cover and bake for 15 minutes.
5. Turn heat down to 350°F and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, then uncover the bread and continue baking for another 10 minutes until top is golden brown.
6. Remove from oven and carefully turn Dutch oven over to remove bread. Set bread upright on a wire rack to cool. Allow to cool at least an hour before trying to cut. Use a serrated knife.
Per Serving: 228 Calories; 1g Fat (2.5% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 48g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 389mg Sodium; trace Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 11mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 69mg Potassium; 69mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, Brunch, Desserts, on June 28th, 2022.

So easy to make with puff pastry dough, fresh fruit and some frangipane.

A post from Carolyn. I’ve been on a tear lately with frangipane. I made some recently for a rhubarb galette (don’t think I’ve posted that recipe yet), then decided to make it again using a different recipe for my book review group meeting at my home. I was expecting about 12-13 people, but at the last minute only 6 of us showed up (not sure if was the book, or just other circumstances). I sent everyone home with one of these plus some of the lemon almond tea cake (haven’t posted that one yet, either).

It was years ago when I was attending a cooking class near me and the hostesses served something similar to these as we all arrived for the class. They were quite easy to make, so I input the recipe in my files, but never had gotten around to making them. With fresh summer fruit in season, I decided to try these. But I decided to use some apricot halves (canned) and some fresh blackberries instead. And in lieu of the cream cheese filling (from the original recipe) that was going to be underneath the fruit, I made the frangipane.

If you’re not familiar with frangipane, it’s pronounced fran-jeh-payn.  Wikipedia says frangipane:

. . .is a sweet almond-flavored custard used in a variety of ways including cakes and such pastries as the Bakewell tart, conversation tart, Jésuite and pithivier. A French spelling from a 1674 cookbook is franchipane with the earliest modern spelling coming from a 1732 confectioners’ dictionary. Originally designated as a custard tart flavored by almonds or pistachios it came later to designate a filling that could be used in a variety of confections and baked goods.

You might know it from the center filling of a bear claw. Certainly that was my earliest knowledge of an almond filling. I remember stopping at a bakery in Europe (France, I think) one morning and we bought a little slice of a tart – sure enough, frangipane. Yummy is all I can say.

So these little numbers require puff pastry. Pepperidge Farms brand is probably the most widely available. My grocery carries a store-label also, but I opted for the Pepperidge Farms. There’s also one called Dufour, I think it is. Also very good, probably better than the Pepperidge. The unopened packages defrosted in the refrigerator for more than a day. If you decide to try these, be sure to look at the expiration date on the puff pastry box. Do not used any that are “old.” And be sure to give them the full 24+ hours to defrost fully.

The pastry sheets are lightly floured, but you need a bit more flour on your work surface to keep them from sticking as  you roll it out further, to about a 11″ or 12″ square. Then cut that square into quarters, so about 5 1/2″ squares. One box will make eight pastries.

Meanwhile you’ll have made the frangipane – some butter and sugar, some almond meal (flour), an egg and a little bit of regular flour, PLUS a jot of almond extract. Perhaps if you used freshly ground almonds the frangipane would have a significant almond flavor, but I wanted it stronger, so I used almond extract instead of vanilla.

Then you scoop a bit of the frangipane pastry cream in the center, position the fruit on top (they kind of look like sunny-side up eggs, huh?), then roll in the pastry edges and crimp them (similar to the edge of a pie crust). Onto a baking sheet they go. They got a brush of an egg wash and some sprinkled Turbinado sugar on top. They take about 30 minutes to bake, to get that lovely golden brown.

What’s GOOD: everything about these was good. Delicious. Loved the frangipane filling, loved the flaky pastry, ate one. Gave the rest away. Why did I give them away, you ask? Because I’d eat them all! And I had about 10 of them left.

What’s NOT: only that you’ve got to buy the puff pastry a couple of days ahead so it has time to completely defrost in the refrigerator. There are instructions for defrosting in the microwave, but I wouldn’t do it.

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Apricot Frangipane Croissant Pastries

Recipe By: Adapted from a long-ago recipe from a cooking class
Servings: 8

1 pound Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets — defrosted in refrigerator at least 24 hours ahead
8 canned apricot halves — drained, or fresh apricot halves, and/or fresh blackberries
1 large egg — mixed with a teaspoon of water, for glazing pastries
1 1/2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar — for sprinkling on top
FRANGIPANE FILLING:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond meal
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

NOTE: Defrost pastry sheets for a minimum of 24 hours in the refrigerator.
1. Roll out puff pastry onto floured board. Use a floured rolling pin to flatten slightly and cut into squares approximately 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ inches. You may want to cut off the corners so the pastries roll inward more easily.
2. FRANGIPANE: Using a hand mixer, combine butter and sugar until thoroughly mixed and crumbly. Add almond meal, egg, almond extract, adding flour last. Mix until there are no streaks in the batter.
3. Spread about 2 tablespoons of frangipane in the middle of the puff pastry square. Top with a drained apricot half, cut side down (or with about 7 blackberries in one layer). Roll the pastry edges toward the middle, leaving some space between the filling and the edges. Press the edges gently (crimping like a little pie crust) so they will hold in place.
4. Add about a teaspoon of water to the beaten egg and whisk. Brush the croissant with the egg wash. Top with turbinado sugar.
4. Preheat oven to 375°. Place the pastries on a Silpat lined baking sheet and bake approximately 30 minutes.
Per Serving: 143 Calories; 9g Fat (52.5% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 58mg Cholesterol; 20mg Sodium; 11g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 28mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 135mg Potassium; 61mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, on June 5th, 2022.

Oh my, oh my. Do I love popovers. 

A post from Carolyn. I wish there was an ode, or a poem to the gloriousness of popovers. Alas, I didn’t find any, and I’m not going to write one! You know, of course, that the batter that makes popovers is nearly identical to what’s used to make Yorkshire pudding. A eggy, thin batter (eggs, flour, salt, milk and butter – that’s all that’s in them). Yorkshire pudding traditionally is made in the pan after a big beef roast is removed from the oven to rest, most of the drippings are poured off, then the batter is poured in and it’s baked for 30-40 minutes. A wedge or square of it would be served alongside a big hunk of juicy beef roast.

Years and years ago (we’re talking the late 60s), when I was about 25-26 my then husband and my parents (who were visiting from San Diego) and I drove to British Columbia (I was living in Washington at the time) to visit my dad’s cousins who hailed from a tiny farming community there. I think they raised wheat or soy beans, but don’t quote me. They lived in a very old farmhouse, and Sunday dinner was served at about 2pm. The ladies of the house had been bustling in the kitchen for hours (not enough room for more than 2 people) and finally dinner was served at the huge dining table. Yorkshire pudding was portioned out beside the slice of roast, along with big roasted potatoes (probably also cooked in the pan with the roast). Beyond that I have no recollection of what we ate. Probably a vegetable and dessert. But it was the Yorkshire pudding that captivated me. I wanted to know all about it. They’d mixed it up by hand earlier in a big crockery bowl and let the mixture rest at room temp before it was poured into the large roasting pan of beef drippings (grease). Beyond that I knew nothing.

Years later, after I moved to Orange County, CA in the 70s (where I still live) when my mother visited, she and I used to go shopping at a department store, Bullock’s, and they served popovers with the lunch entrees in their restaurant. Loved them. You know and have heard about that Proust-ian moment when you bite into something and it transports you back in time, when memories of the past flood through your brain. With Proust it was madeleines, that lovely little soft French cookie. I was taken back to that day when I’d had Yorkshire pudding. Then I began researching it as best I could. No internet in those days. I bought a popover pan (see above, although the one I had then was not nonstick). I don’t think nonstick existed back then. Over the years I had difficulty with that pan and eventually gave it away because it just was not reliable about the popovers sticking, even though I buttered them well. I didn’t replace it. I THINK my mistake was putting it in the dishwasher. I’ve read since that popover pans should not be put in the dishwasher – even this new nonstick one. Probably because the strong/harsh detergent will eventually damage the nonstick surface. Lesson learned.

More years went by, and then I went on this last trip and had popovers at Kaynes in Nashville. They were absolutely sensational. Again, I was transported – this time not to the Yorkshire pudding days – but to friends my DH and I made in England, and Pamela had made a roast beef and she made popovers. When I got back home from this trip to Nashville, though, I went online to amazon and bought la new Bellemain nonstick popover pan. And since then I’ve been on a mission to make popovers that make me happy. There are lots of nonstick popover pans on amazon – the Bellemain one merely had lots more good reviews. Just don’t ever put it in the dishwasher.

With my new popover pan in hand, my first recipe iteration was from America’s Test Kitchen. It was the traditional 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of melted butter. I made them, and they were okay. Certainly acceptable, but not up to the eggy, rich popover I had at Kaynes. I began researching more recipes and wanting them to be more eggy (so more eggs in ratio). And wanted a richer taste, so I assumed maybe a little more melted butter would be a good addition. My second iteration hit the mark – maybe not quite as rich as Kaynes’, but it’s close. In researching this blog post I came across yet another recipe, purported to be from Cook’s Illustrated that uses even less flour, and a lower oven temp, so I think I’ll need to give that one a try too. I also have a recipe for chocolate popovers – obviously it’s a dessert! I’ll make those one of these days.

This recipe, from King Arthur Flour uses more eggs, less milk and flour, and 3 tablespoons of melted butter. You’re to use warm milk and eggs that have warmed to room temp (or let set in hot water for 10 minutes before cracking them open). They suggest mixing in a bowl with a whisk, but I used the blender, and then just let the batter sit with the lid on, for an hour. This gives time for the batter to lose bubbles that have formed in the mixing. Some recipes insist popover batter needs to rest at room temp for an hour. This particular one did not, but I didn’t think it would hurt. I halved the recipe below as my popover pan has six wells.

RECOMENDATIONS: There are any number of recommendations from seasoned cooks and chefs about making popovers. Warm milk, warmed eggs, let the batter sit for an hour, hydrate the flour (needed), heat the popover pan in the hot oven before pouring in the batter, and cardinal of all, NEVER open the oven door during the baking, or they’ll deflate. Also if your oven is smaller, place the popovers on the lowest shelf possible, leave some space, then slide a cookie sheet on a higher shelf (helps to prevent over-browning).

When you make them, prepare only as many as you think you’ll eat. Although you can eat them warmed up (microwave 10 seconds, turn them over and microwave another 4-6 seconds), they’re just not the same. Reheating in the oven will over-heat/bake that lovely eggy interior.

This recipe calls for  using a muffin tin, but I used the popover pan using the same instructions.

What’s GOOD: that they’re so tender, very eggy and golden, gloriously brown on the outside. So easy to pop out of the pan if you have a nonstick popover pan. And remember what I did in Nashville? Julian recommended we have some cheese (he ordered a cheese platter for the table) with little torn pieces of warm popover. Oh my. So good.

What’s NOT: nothing, really – they’re not that hard to make, even for people who think they are. Mix by hand or in the blender. Either one works well.

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Popovers – from King Arthur

Recipe By: King Arthur Flour 3/2010
Servings: 6

4 large eggs — warmed in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes before cracking
1 1/2 cups 2% milk — lukewarm, or you can use whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour — 6 1/4 ounces
3 tablespoons melted butter

1) Preheat the oven to 450°F. Position a rack on a lower shelf. The top of the fully risen popovers should be about midway up the oven. What you don’t want is for the tops of the popping popovers to be too close to the top of the oven, as they’ll burn.
2) Use a standard 12-cup metal muffin tin or popover pan, one whose cups are close to 2 1/2″ wide x 1 1/2″ deep. Grease the pan thoroughly, covering the area between the cups as well as the cups themselves. Make sure the oven is up to temperature before you begin to make the popover batter.
3) Use a wire whisk to beat together the eggs, milk, and salt. Whisk unil the egg and milk are well combined, with no streaks of yolk showing.
4) Add the flour all at once, and beat with a wire whisk till frothy; there shouldn’t be any large lumps in the batter, but smaller lumps are OK. OR, if you’re using a stand mixer equipped with the whisk attachment, whisk at high speed for 20 seconds. Stop, scrape the sides of the bowl, and whisk for an additional 20 to 30 seconds at high speed, till frothy.
5) Stir in the melted butter, combining quickly.
6) Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling them about 2/3 to 3/4 full.
7) Make absolutely certain your oven is at 450°F. Place the pan on a lower shelf of the oven .
8) Bake the popovers for 20 minutes without opening the oven door. Reduce the heat to 350°F (again without opening the door), and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re a deep, golden brown. If the popovers seem to be browning too quickly, position an oven rack at the very top of the oven, and put a cookie sheet on it, to shield the popovers’ tops from direct heat.
9) If you plan on serving the popovers immediately, remove them from the oven, and stick the tip of a knife into the top of each, to release steam and help prevent sogginess. Slip them out of the pan, and serve.
10) If you want the popovers to hold their shape longer without deflating and settling quite as much, bake them for an additional 5 minutes (for a total of 40 minutes) IF you can do so without them becoming too dark. This will make them a bit sturdier, and able to hold their “popped” shape a bit longer.
Per Serving: 243 Calories; 10g Fat (39.1% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 27g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 144mg Cholesterol; 315mg Sodium; 3g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 99mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 167mg Potassium; 158mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, on March 22nd, 2022.

Don’t you just want to dive into that bread? Slice off a piece and spread it with butter?

A quick post from Carolyn. You’ve seen this bread here before – – I posted it years 12 years ago, and I haven’t tampered with the recipe one iota. It stands the test of time. I’ve made it many, many St. Patrick’s Days to go along with a delicious corned beef dinner. And this time it was no different, other than I didn’t remind you to MAKE THIS prior to March 17th. It makes the most lovely bread the morning after, toasted lightly and again, spread with softened butter. This year my friend Cherrie and her husband Bud invited my granddaughter Taylor and me to dinner that night, even though Cherrie is recovering from shoulder replacement surgery. Bud has become a wonder in the kitchen, but I know Cherrie did plenty of small tasks getting ready for us too. It was a scrumptious dinner and this bread was perfect to go with it. If you haven’t saved this recipe before, you should click through and read how easy it is to make. And then make it.

Posted in Breads, on September 6th, 2021.

Lots of savory flavors here – with goat cheese inside and Parm on top

Last week I hosted a luncheon – a ladies lunch – with some friends who used to work at the ad agency I co-owned. We’ve gotten together over the years but it had been awhile – for most of us it had been since 2014 when many of them attended my DH (dear husband)’s memorial service. And I certainly had no time that day to visit with them! So I invited four of them, and as we sipped some lovely Moet-Chandon champagne that two of them brought for us to share, we FaceTimed with another one of the group who lives in Arizona. None of us had seen or talked to her for years. It’s so fun to gather together and get caught up, and we had a lot of catching up to do! Mostly grandchildren added to the mix, and me with 2 great-grands. And I proclaimed that I’d just turned 80 – oh my, aghast! They were all kind enough to say no, I didn’t look 80. Some days I feel like it!!

In the weeks to come, you’ll see all three of the recipes I served that day – all new recipes. Except for a salad dressing I chose to use. I served a salmon Niçoise salad, these biscuits, and an apple-almond cake. Stay tuned for all of them.

So, these biscuits – easy peasy! You just need to have plain yogurt on hand and some goat cheese. Everything else is mostly a staple in my house (biscuit-making ingredients + grated Parm). The original recipe called for using a muffin scoop to do drop biscuits, but I decided to make regular round, shaped (cut round) biscuits. The making of them was the same, I merely poured the dough out onto my countertop, patted and shaped, then cut and put them in a 9×9 pan that had been buttered. The original recipe had you heat up a 10-inch iron frying pan, melt the butter, then put in the biscuits. It was a warm day and I didn’t feel like doing all that; hence I shaped and cut them as mentioned above.

The tops are gently buttered, then they’re baked, then some grated Parm put on top (kind-a sticks to the butter). Served warm – oh yum. Really tender biscuits. The original recipe came from a cookbook by Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes. I’m certain I borrowed the book from the library – some years ago even – and this was a recipe from that book. The cookbook is a compilation of essays about bread and wine, as I recall, with plenty of recipes as well. Love those kinds of cookbooks. I’m such a sucker for stories about recipes.

What’s GOOD: tender – delicious – tasty with the savory hint of yogurt and goat cheese. It was hard to tell quite what was in them. I knew of course, but my guests did not. They were a hit. Half were eaten, the other half are in the freezer.

What’s NOT: nothing unless you don’t have plain yogurt and goat cheese on hand.

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Goat Cheese Biscuits

Recipe By: Shauna Niequist, “Bread and Wine” essay cookbook
Serving Size: 12

2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup plain yogurt — full fat Greek style
4 tablespoons cold butter
4 tablespoons goat cheese — crumbled
2 tablespoons butter — melted (for pan and brushed on top)
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated

1. Preheat oven to 425°F and place a 10-inch iron pan into oven while it’s preheating.
2. Pour flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Cut 4 T of butter into small pieces and add to the bowl, with the goat cheese and the yogurt. Use a pastry blender, or stir until the mix is moistened, adding an extra tablespoon of yogurt if needed.
3. Remove skillet from oven and place a tablespoon of butter into it. When butter has melted, divide batter into 12 biscuits, each about the size of a golf ball and then nestle them into the pan. They’ll be snuggled in very closely. Start around the edge, then add remaining to the center.
4. Brush tops of biscuits with a tablespoon of melted butter. Bake for 14-16 minutes until browned on the top and bottom. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the Parm.
VARIATION: Mold the dough in a flat disc and use round cutter to make 12 biscuits. Pour half the melted butter in a 9×9 pan and spread out to the edges. Place biscuits in pan and bake for about 18 minutes (if you don’t use the super-hot iron skillet, the biscuits take a bit longer and don’t take on as much golden brown color). Add Parm on top as soon as you take the pan out of the oven. Serve warm.
Per Serving: 158 Calories; 8g Fat (46.2% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 17g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 22mg Cholesterol; 553mg Sodium; 1g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 130mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 64mg Potassium; 176mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, Brunch, on August 30th, 2021.

Tender coffeecake with a streak of cocoa and cinnamon in the middle.

Surprising to me that I’d not posted this recipe before, since it’s been in my recipe arsenal since the 1960s, when my first husband’s grandmother, Ethel, served this one day for a mid-morning Sunday breakfast. I was taken with it then, and still have the same liking of it now.

During many Christmas mornings in years past I’ve made this coffeecake, arising early to put it together quickly, because the night before I’d set out everything I could, made the topping and set it aside, let the butter warm on the countertop to make it easy to beat into the sugar and egg mixture. This requires 2 cups of sour cream – wow! I wonder if half could be substituted with buttermilk, and soda added? I wasn’t willing to make substitutions this time because I had a group of women coming over to listen to me talk about a recent favorite book, This Tender Land: A Novel by William Kent Krueger. (If you’re interested in the book, go to my sidebar, it’s listed there at the moment with a little snippet about the story.)

This makes a 9×13 pan full of coffeecake – and depending upon how you cut it, it could serve at least 20 if not more. It’s rich, but not decadent type of rich. Has the little streak of cocoa/cinnamon/sugar through it and more on top. It’s not at all difficult – you make the topping and set it aside. Then the batter goes together and you pour half of it into the greased pan, then sprinkle half the topping over it, then the remaining batter, and the remaining topping sprinkled all over the top. Use a knife to swirl a little – you can see the imprint of the knife as I swirled all over the coffeecake. Into a 350° oven it goes and 45 minutes later it’s done.

What’s GOOD: the cake part is so very tender, and love the little bit of cocoa in it. It’s not overpoweringly chocolate – just a scent of it in each bite. Altogether delicious. It’s been a “keeper” of mine for over 60 years.

What’s NOT: absolutely nothing at all.

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Chocolate Sour Cream Coffeecake

Recipe By: Grandma Bruce, grandmother of my first husband
Serving Size: 16

TOPPING:
4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
BATTER:
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 pound butter — or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
4 whole eggs
2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

NOTES: This was a family favorite on Christmas morning. I think I usually added more cocoa because I liked it with a more chocolate flavor. The night before I’d mix up everything I could so it wouldn’t take too much time to get it into the oven.
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In separate bowl combine topping: cocoa, sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
3. Combine margarine, sugar, eggs, vanilla and sour cream in mixer and mix well. Then add flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and soda.
4. Pour half of the batter into an oiled 9×13 pan, then sprinkle half of the topping over it, then pour in remaining batter. Use a knife and swirl the batter a little, then sprinkle remaining topping on top. Bake for 45 minutes.
Per Serving: 431 Calories; 18g Fat (36.5% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 64g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 91mg Cholesterol; 366mg Sodium; 38g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 132mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 111mg Potassium; 198mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, on May 14th, 2021.

Kind of weird shapes, but tasted great with nutmeg in them.

One of the mornings my family was at the desert house, I made scones. There hasn’t been a whole lot of baking going on in that kitchen, truth be told. There is no stand mixer – just a mediocre hand-held Rival mixer. Discovered there was no pastry blender, either. And there isn’t a food processor. Sara and I haven’t decided if we really need those things there – we go there to relax, so perhaps we don’t need the fancy kitchen appliances. There’s an electric range, of course, an oven, a Maytag dishwasher (many years old, but works just fine) and a microwave. There is also a Maytag washer and dryer. Old. Back in the day when Maytag’s name meant good quality. So I hear that’s not necessary so anymore. We’re going to continue using those old appliances as long as they keep running.

Speaking of the electric range, Sara and I had decided from the get-go that we wanted to have gas plumbed into the kitchen. Well, that was before we found out what a big job it would be. There is gas within about 6 feet of the kitchen range, but because it’s a condo, it has a shared wall with the condo next door. We’d have to tear out about 6 feet of wall in the existing kitchen to pipe the gas through studs, etc. Probably not worth doing. Probably not going to happen. Maybe we’ll look into induction when the range needs replacing.

There is a very cheap blender in that kitchen that we haven’t used. And in this case, there was a potato masher (I bought a set of kitchen utensils from Rachael Ray, and a potato masher was included). I didn’t know how well that utensil would work for mixing scones, but it seemed to function pretty well. The house came furnished, and the kitchen drawers were chock-full of things, but no pastry blender. There had been a nice KitchenAid stand mixer when we were looking at the house, but when the sellers cleared things out, that went too. I have a small food processor (about a 2 cup size) that I think I’ll take out there. We’ll see if that will work sufficiently well without buying a big one.

I wasn’t sure we had nutmeg at that house, so I took some from home; I had butter, flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Didn’t have a round cutter for scones, so I just cut them sort-of square-ish. But, as you know, shape isn’t important! The dough was on the dry side, so I added a little bit of milk to make the dough slightly sticky. That’s what you’re looking for.

The family enjoyed them. I loved the nutmeg. You know, nutmeg can be a rather overpowering spice. Like cloves (which can be so easily over-done). But the nutmeg – even though there was quite a bit of it in the scones, was just fine. I rounded the measuring spoon too, so I put in more than had been called for. We didn’t serve them with jam – just butter. And the family of 6 of us ate all but a couple of the ones on that tray.

What’s GOOD: loved the nutmeg in them. Nice and tender. They tasted wonderful with just butter, but the recipe, originally from Bon Appetit in 2003, suggested clotted cream and raspberry jam. They’d be lovely, too.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Nutmeg Scones

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit
Serving Size: 6

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, or sugar substitute
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg — freshly grated, or use bottled ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter — chilled
1 cup sour cream
1-3 teaspoons of milk if needed for dough pliability
EGG WHITE GLAZE:
1 large egg white — beaten to blend with 2 teaspoons water (for glaze)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in food processor; blend 10 seconds. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add sour cream. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form. If the dough is too dry, add milk in 1-2 teaspoons portions until dough begins to come together.
2. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead 4 turns to form ball. Roll out dough to 8-inch square (about 3/4 inch thick). Cut square into wedges. Or form into a rectangle and cut into squares.
3. Lightly whip the egg white – just enough to loosen the white. Brush on top of scones, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
4. Transfer to baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake scones until tops are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. Transfer scones to rack and cool slightly. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Rewarm in 350°F oven 10 minutes, if desired.) If not eaten after 24 hours, freeze.
Per Serving: 358 Calories; 18g Fat (45.5% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 43g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 443mg Sodium; 10g Total Sugars; 0mcg Vitamin D; 163mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 109mg Potassium; 227mg Phosphorus. 

Posted in Breads, on August 8th, 2020.

lemon_lavender_crumb_muffins

A post from Sara . . .

This is one of my go-to recipes. It’s fast, flavorful and a favorite in our house. I often give them out as gifts because they make such a pretty package. I’ve served them at breakfast, baked them as loaves and shipped them in care packages and made mini muffins for afternoon tea with whipped cream.

I’ve modified the original recipe to make it a bit healthier (fat-free yogurt instead of sour cream and half applesauce for all butter), but really, what muffin is healthy? The lavender can be omitted and a lemon glaze (which the original recipe calls for) can be used.

There’s the drylemon_lavender_crumb_muffins_batter ingredients in photo at right. The flecks are the lavender buds.

I find that the glaze is not necessary. It makes the muffin top wet and hard to ship, serve or store. It’s listed in the recipe below, in case you decide to use it.

I use twice the lemon zest because I love a good punch of lemon flavor. You can drop it down for your tastelemon_lavender_crumb_muffins_ready2bake.

I made these just the other day and my family ate them hot, right out of the oven. I had to hide the half dozen I was giving to a neighbor! My advice? Don’t bother cutting the recipe in half. Just hide some for later…

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Lemon Lavender Crumb Muffins

Recipe By: Adapted from Taste of Home
Serving Size: 20

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lavender buds — crushed
4 large eggs — room temperature
1 cup Greek yogurt, fat-free
1/2 cup butter — melted
1/2 cup applesauce
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
TOPPING:
3/8 cup all-purpose flour
3/8 cup sugar
12 tablespoons cold butter — cubed
GLAZE: (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
2-2/3 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, lavender and salt. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, applesauce, butter, lemon zest and juice. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.
3. In a small bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
5. GLAZE: (if using) In a small bowl, whisk glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm muffins. Serve warm.
Per Serving: 253 Calories; 7g Fat (24.3% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 44g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 52mg Cholesterol; 132mg Sodium; 27g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 12mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 47mg Potassium; 45mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Breads, on May 9th, 2020.

choc_banana_bread_whole

Ever made just enough for a mini-loaf? I wish I’d put something in the photo so you could get the perspective of the mini size. 

In all my years of baking, I’ve never – ever – made just enough batter to bake something in one of those little mini-loaves. Normally I don’t even use those mini-loaf pans except at Christmas time when I’m baking breads, or my Bishop’s Bread favorite. Since I’ve been a widow, however, I make just one loaf of that bread at Christmas. One regular loaf.

But when I saw this recipe, over at “I am a food blog,” it resonated with me. I had one over-ripe banana, I had chocolate, and best part, making a small loaf would keep me from eating so much of it. So I dove in and had a loaf done in no time. I won’t count the extra time it took to measure salt twice, measure baking powder twice, flour twice, etc. I should have brought all the duplicate ingredients out and left them out. I didn’t think about it, as I made the chocolate batter first, and it’s poured into the little loaf pan while you make the second batter.

choc_banana_bread_slicesNeither batter was hard or time consuming – mashing up the banana was the most wrist action I did. Then you pour that batter in on top of the chocolate batter. Into the oven it goes. I guess the chocolate batter rose first, hence it wound its way up the sides of the pan, then the banana batter began. The circle of chocolate was apparent at one end of the loaf and not at the other. But it’s kind of charming, in a way. NOTE: I’ve included gram measurements for the flour in both batters – it’s important that you measure because making a small loaf like this, it’s critical to be accurate. The chemistry in a small loaf wouldn’t be so forgiving.

A few days later my son stopped by my house to deliver something to me and he asked “do you have anything I can snack on, Mom?” I said of course. I made him a plate of cheddar cheese and goat brie with crackers, a cut-up apple and two slices of this bread. As it happened, he devoured it all as he stood 6 feet from me at the front door. I offered some water – he said no. Actually I think he said heck no, because “do you know how hard it is to find a public restroom now?” I didn’t. Hadn’t even thought about it.

What’s GOOD: everything about this bread is good. I’d definitely make it again. Loved the small portion it made. As I’m writing this, there is still one small slice in the refrigerator. I had a slice for dessert tonight with a little cream poured over it. But it’s a lovely snacking bread.

What’s NOT: only that you need to have an over-the-hill banana to make this. You’ll have very little flavor if you try this with an eating banana with no black streaks on it! Did you know that you can freeze a over-ripe banana in its skin? Then defrost and you’ve got mush already, perfect for going into this little bread.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Chocolate and Banana Bread – Mini Loaf

Recipe By: From the blog: I am a food blog
Serving Size: 4

CHOCOLATE LAYER:
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar — or sugar substitute
1 tablespoon cocoa — plus 1 teaspoon
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
BANANA LAYER:
52 1/2 grams all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground cinnamon
57 1/2 grams sugar — or sugar substitute
1/2 large egg — whisk and measure out
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons banana — ripe, mashed
1 1/2 teaspoons sour cream — or Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

NOTE: Do use the gram measurement for the flour and sugar. Making a small loaf requires precision in measuring.
1. Lightly butter and flour a mini loaf pan (6×3) inches or a pan that holds 2 cups liquid. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Prepare chocolate batter: combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Mix well, then make a well in the center and pour in the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Whisk until blended. The batter will still be lumpy. Pour into the prepared mini loaf pan and set aside.
3. Prepare banana bread batter: Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and set aside. Beat together the sugar and egg until light and fluffy. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking, taking your time. Stir in mashed bananas, sour cream and vanilla. Mix just until combined and no flour streaks are visible.
4. Pour this batter on top of the chocolate layer and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 200°F when an instant read thermometer is inserted into the center. The cake should be golden brown on top and the cake will spring back when you gently press it and a skewer comes out clean. Cover top of bread with foil during baking if the top begins to brown too quickly.
5. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then upend the pan into your palm and place on cooling rack until it’s reached room temp. Or until it’s still slightly warm. Use a serrated knife to slice.
Per Serving: 323 Calories; 12g Fat (32.1% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 27mg Cholesterol; 229mg Sodium.

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