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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 2021, I’ll still participate, but the two daughters are going to do more posting from here on out.

We participate in an amazon program that rewards a little tiny $ something (pennies, really) if you purchase any books recommended (below), or buy products occasionally mentioned on the blog with an amazon link. 

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BOOK READING:

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. The book IS a novel, but the event is true. 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. On the voyage the ship encounters a hurricane and several giraffes are lost, but two young ones survive. The story is of their journey across the United States in the care of two oh-so-different people, both with a mission. A young boy (barely an adult) becomes the driver (his only goal is his desire to go to California), with the zoo’s delegate (a middle-aged man with a past), and it’s the story about these two misfits and their caring for the giraffes, feeding them (that’s a laugh – onions play a big part). No freeways existed back then, and the mental picture of the vehicle they used (basically a small truck) with the two giraffes confined within two tall boxes precariously strapped to the truck, and their driving and carrying-on getting under bridges and over rivers is just a hoot. I so wanted this story to be true – parts of it ARE true. Worth reading if you enjoy such animal stories. The giraffes survive, thankfully, and they both lived to a ripe old age at the zoo!

Also a kind of quirky book by Beth Miller, The Missing Letters of Mrs. Bright. Picture a middle-aged woman, slogging through life with a not-very-attentive husband, grown children, and one day she decides to leave. Completely. Maybe she had a bucket list of sorts, and she knew none of those places would ever happen in her life if she stayed put. She sets off to find a long-lost girlfriend. The book is about her journey. Her travels. Friendships, and lost friendships. Everyone can probably empathize with Kay Bright as she examines her life. And yes, there are letters and chapters with her daughter, Stella. Cute book.

Katherine Center’s book, Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel is certainly vivid. There aren’t very many women firefighters out there in the world – this is about one. A novel, however. About her work life and the harrassment she endures (some of it’s with love, some not) and about her relationships. The pros and cons of transferring to a different fire station (just like any job move, not always smooth). Good read.

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. Such relationships were fraught with problems from the very strict Japanese families who resented the American presence in their country, to the American military higher-ups who made it impossible for the servicemen to marry Japanese nationals. Could hardly put it down. Yes, it’s a romance of sorts, but not in the typical sense of today’s novel-romance-writing. There aren’t always happy beginnings, middles or endings, but the in between made for very interesting reading.

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. Wow. What an eye-opener. Of their small but loyal family enclaves, the hard-scrabble lives they led, the near poverty level of farming. I’d never heard that any Indian migrants were a part of farming here in California. Obviously they made up a very small percentage of the immigrants who settled there.

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. Fascinating glimpse into the hardships not only for patients (the war-wounded) but for the underappreciated and hardworking staff at various hospitals (even a tent one in Normandy where she worked for many months after D-Day). She meets her to-be husband and even that is fraught with difficulty from many angles.

Could hardly put down Krueger’s book, This Tender Land: A Novel. My friend Ann recommended it. I was gripped with the story within the first paragraph, and it never stopped until I turned the last page. 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. Some very ugly things happen at that school. Eventually they  escape, and they are “on the run.” With a few others with them. If you loved Huckleberry Finn, you’ll have a great appreciation for this story as they use a canoe to get themselves down river. Never having very much to eat and getting into trouble way too often, and authorities on their tail. Well, you just have to read the book to find out what happens.

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. The book is heartbreaking, but one of those that everyone should read. The hardship, the hunger, the dirt and dust, the failed crops, the lack of rain, then the story picks up again in central California, back in the day when the wealthy growers just used up the migrants. I don’t want to spoil the story. So worth reading. Hannah really knows how to weave a story.

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 woman in the South. Into a town (that probably doesn’t exist) that prides itself on being light-skinned blacks. The father was very dark, but he plays no part, really, in this story. Growing up, the girls leave home at 18 to find their way in New Orleans. Suddenly, one twin disappears (her clothes and suitcase all gone in the wink of an eye). Her twin left behind has no idea what’s happened to her. As the story reveals, with divided paths, one twin continues her life as a black woman, and the other twin, the one who left, is able to pass as a white woman. She marries well, has a daughter. Well, let’s just say that there are lots of wicked webs woven throughout the story, starting from the girls’ mother who never wants to speak again of her lost daughter. But you know where this is going, don’t you? Things are found out. The author does a great job of weaving the story apart and then back together.

What a book. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict. A novelized biography of Hedy Lamarr, the famous actress. She was a brilliant mind, and a beautiful woman. It tells the story of her coming of age, how she navigated the world of acting back in that time period (she was Austrian, and Hitler was in power). The writing was very well done – to tell Hedy’s story with detail and poignancy. Eventually Hedy made it to the U.S. and her life story changed, but still had its difficulties. I loved the book, beginning to end. She should have become an engineer as she invented several war related bomb tools. 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, when aristocrats were chased and killed, guillotined in many cases. There is a young couple (part of the royal court) who escape to a remote small castle owned by his family, located on the edge of France and Italy, hoping to wait out the revolution and hoping the villagers love and care about them. Then jump to current day as a small English group of close friends decide to retire somewhere on the continent, and settle on a small abandoned castle in the remote hills of France along the Italian border. Got the picture? The historian in the group is quite interested in the history of the home, and clues are revealed (in the tower) that lead her and the group on a quest to discover what happened to the couple who used to live there. There was a fire once upon a time. There’s an pesky ghost. There’s also a very old child’s doll/playhouse on the grounds. Plus there’s a small graveyard. It is VERY intriguing. 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. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. 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. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

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. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

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.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called 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. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

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. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

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, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

 

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 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.

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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.

Posted in Breads, on April 4th, 2020.

irish_guinness_quick_brown_bread

In my travel recollection, the crunchy brown bread I had in Ireland in about 1987 was some of the best wheat bread I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t quite as dark as this bread, and I’m pretty sure it was a yeast-raised bread, but it used a type of milled wheat and grains that was unlike anything I’d eaten up to then, or since. I went to the grocery store with our friends we were staying with and they had rows of warm brown bread.

When I came home from that Ireland trip I looked in my various bread cookbooks for recipes. We didn’t have the internet to research with back then! I tried a couple. Nope. Didn’t measure up. Then someone told me the milled wheat produced in Ireland is different than anything we can buy here. Ah, well, that explained it. So I’d never tried making it since.

My Tivo records any new Ina Garten shows, and when they pop up in my Tivo menu, I’m sure to be watching her show. And this last week she did one on this bread. I was instantly interested and decided to try making it. So glad I did.

irish_guinness_loafIna used a brand of wheat flour called Heckers. I’d never heard of it before, but I learned it’s an East Coast label and is milled in the U.S. It’s carried at some Wal-Mart stores in the East, but I just went online and they’re out of stock (probably because of Ina Garten’s show). I bought an organic, non GMO whole wheat flour which is a finer mill than others – at least finer than ones from regular store shelf brands anyway.

Storing

Wheat Flour:

Just remember, whole wheat flour doesn’t keep for long at room temp – it will go bad – so seal it well and store in the freezer.

What’s different about this bread is how it’s made – the texture. The dry ingredients are stirred into a large bowl, then the wet ingredients are poured in and you use your fingers to lightly – very lightly – stir it together, pulling with 2-4 fingers from the center outward, until the batter (it’s more a batter than it is a dough) is mixed through and no dry streaks are visible. It’s very sticky and wet. Just know this is not like anything you’ve ever mixed before as a quick bread. The batter actually pours. No kneading could be done in any case.

guinness_brown_bread_slice_butterMeanwhile you will have buttered a loaf pan and the batter is poured into the pan and the top sprinkled with some more oats. It goes into a 450°F oven, and immediately you turn the oven temp down to 400° and it bakes for about 45-55 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer – bread is done at somewhere between 195° and 205°F. I took the bread out at 200°F. At 45 minutes my loaf wasn’t done and it took another 10 minutes to reach that temp.

I cooled it for about 5 minutes in the pan, then upturned it and cooled the loaf on a rack. I served this to a group of friends alongside a bowl of soup, with Kerry Gold butter.

SERVING: you will want to slice this bread thicker than a regular yeast bread because the structure of a quick bread is just different – it doesn’t have the glue (gluten) to hold it together. So hold your hand over the loaf, using your 4th and 5th fingers to keep the far edge from breaking off, and use a serrated knife and saw slowly.

What’s GOOD: love-loved the bread. So easy to make – truly. The only oddball thing was buying Guinness stout beer! Loved the flavor and warm flavor from the wheat flour and Guinness. Was this as good as I remembered from Ireland – well, no, but it was close.

What’s NOT: nothing at all.

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Irish Guinness Brown Bread

Recipe By: Ina Garten recipe
Serving Size: 12

1 cup oatmeal — NOT quick cooking type, but use McCann’s, plus extra for sprinkling
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour — such as Heckers
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar — lightly packed
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
11 ounces Guinness stout — (11- to 12-ounce) at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk — shaken
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons unsalted butter — melted, plus extra for brushing the pan
serve with salted butter such as Kerry Gold

NOTE: If you use King Arthur Flour, the batter may be thicker – suggestion to use the larger quantity of stout – the batter needs to be very loose – not as loose as pancake batter, but not sturdy enough to roll out and knead, for instance. But this dough isn’t kneaded anyway.
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the beer, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. With your fingers, stir the batter from the middle of the bowl to the outside, until it’s well mixed. It will look more like cake batter than bread dough.
3. Brush a 9 x 5 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with melted butter. Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle the top with oats. Put the bread in the oven, immediately turn the temperature down to 400°F, and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean (mine took 55 minutes to reach 200°F). Turn the bread out onto a baking rack and allow to cool completely. Slice and serve with salted butter, preferably Kerry Gold!
Per Serving: 175 Calories; 2g Fat (8.6% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 1mg Cholesterol; 623mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, lectin-free, on October 15th, 2019.

savory_chaffle_sandwich

That looks like a waffle. No. It’s a chaffle. The sandwich made with two chaffles and tuna salad in between.

Awhile back I know I mentioned that I’ve been craving a simple tuna sandwich. But I wanted it on regular white bread. But traditional white bread’s a no-no on my lectin-free diet. Enter my world – chaffles. The texture of these is nothing like regular waffles. These are soft and tender. And they don’t really have a lot of flavor, in and of themselves. But they offer me a way to have a sandwich without eating any flour. Over the last year I’ve tried other bread types, all gluten-free and grain free. I’ve been less than pleased with some of the almond-flour loaf-style breads I’ve tried, even though some contained yeast which I thought would produce a lighter kind of bread. Well, not in my book, they didn’t. Some keto dieters are just thrilled with breads made with almond and coconut flours. Not for me.

B078BS5B64Chaffles were invented by someone on a keto diet, and the early ones (I guess) were made with shredded mozzarella cheese and a kind of egg batter. But cooks more inventive than I am figured out a way to make them without cheese (although these above I did make with a tiny bit of cheese). They’re a cinch to make, as I explained a few weeks ago when I suggested you go look up the savory chaffle recipe. I’ve had them as a treat – as a waffle with a bit of butter and some lankanto maple syrup. Although I’ve eaten my share of waffles over my lifetime, they’re not something I crave. Using mozzarella cheese is the standard way to make these – because mozzie is so easy to melt and the cheese on both sides of the batter makes for a crispy outside. But if you’re eating the Dr. Gundry diet, regular cow’s milk is out (unless it’s A2 milk, which I do buy but nobody makes cheese from A2 milk, that I know about anyway) so I need to use sheep or goat cheese. So I used grated goat cheddar, and I used very little – I didn’t want the cheese to overpower the chaffle. I make mine in the Sur La Table Dash Mini Waffle Maker pictured at right. If you have a family, you can make these in a regular waffle iron – you don’t have to have this one.

chaffle_sandwich_topMy craving here was for a sandwich, and I’m happy as a clam to be able to enjoy a traditional sandwich now. Although I do have to make some chaffles first, in order to have a sandwich. On Saturday I made 4 of them, gave two to Sara and John who were here visiting. I’d made chili and they had the chaffle along with the chili. That’s why I made these with some cheese as I’d sprinkled cheese over the top of the chili. So the remaining 2 chaffles went into the freezer. A few days later and after 15 minutes of defrosting, they were ready to be made into a sandwich.

These chaffles CAN be cut in half horizontally, but I’ll just say that for me they’re not substantial enough to do that. I tried doing that a few weeks ago and just felt they were too flimsy. If you’re eating a fairly dry sandwich (like sliced roast turkey or beef or chicken with no added mayo) it might work. If you like a bit of mayo spread on the chaffle, though, it could ooze through the holes. If that doesn’t bother you, by all means slice them in half. If you use an extra-large egg, you might get enough of the batter for both chaffles to be a little thicker, and then you would be able to slice them in half. I use large eggs, and for me, maybe I’ll get one chaffle that’s thicker, the other that’s not.

What’s GOOD: well, for me, someone who hasn’t eaten a piece of regular bread in 18 months, these chaffles are a life saver! My craving for a tuna sandwich was assuaged, big time! You could have heard me say mmmmm. So happy! Occasionally I go to BJ’s (restaurant) and I order their turkey burger (without the bun). Next time I think I’ll take 2 of my chaffles with me and I CAN have a turkey burger with more than just wrapping in lettuce. Yea! Or I could order a beef burger if I’m feeling like a treat. When I make them, I make at least a double recipe, maybe more and put the extras in the freezer. They freeze beautifully.

What’s NOT: these are not waffles. If you’re expecting crunchy, crispy, these won’t satisfy, but then they’re not supposed to. They’re tender and soft – perfect for a soft sandwich style. Just know what you’re getting here . . . I have yet to venture into alien territory like adding bacon or onion, or to make them sweet. I’m loving the savory side.

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Sandwich Bread Chaffles

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Two Sleevers blog
Serving Size: 2

1 large egg
2 tablespoon almond flour
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon water
3 tablespoons grated cheese — Mozzarella, cheddar, goat cheddar (optional)
garlic powder or dried herbs (optional)

1. In a bowl thoroughly mix the egg so no streaks are visible.
2. Add almond flour (no lumps), mayo, baking powder and water. Add garlic powder or dried herbs if using (I usually don’t).
3. Heat up waffle iron. If making these without cheese, it’s advisable to spray both top and bottom with olive oil spray or coconut oil spray, then pour 1/4 cup to make one chaffle. IF you desire the cheese, once waffle iron is hot, sprinkle a bit of the grated cheese on the waffle grate, pour in the batter, then top with a bit more cheese. Close lid. Cook these a bit longer than usual – about an extra minute. Use a fork to remove from the waffle iron and place on a rack to cool slightly. Allow waffle iron to reheat before making more. Can be eaten immediately, or cool, package and freeze.
4. Makes 2 chaffles, and you can cut them in half horizontally, to use as a sandwich, although they will be very thin.
Per Serving: 164 Calories; 13g Fat (71.3% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 0g Dietary Fiber; 120mg Cholesterol; 171mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, on February 4th, 2019.

2_ingred_bagels

A recipe from Sara

2_ingred_toppingsThis is an alternative to yeast breads that takes no time to make and has 10-11 grams protein per serving!  It’s my new favorite. I make this in double batches and my family goes through them within a few days. Always a good sign the recipe is enjoyed. 2_ingred_dough

The only negative is the self-rising flour, as it’s not something I normally use, so I had to buy some specifically for this recipe. And now I have to find a permanent home in my baking drawer!

Notes from Carolyn: you can make your own self-rising flour and store it that way, but if you don’t have self-rising flour and don’t want to have to buy it or store it, use this adaptation: for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

bagels_raw

In writing up this recipe for Sara, and going online to verify instructions, I discovered this gem is now in a Weight Watchers recipe frenzy. “Everybody” is making it – you can make all kinds of things with it: bagels (Sara’s favorite), calzones, pizza dough, pretzels, bread sticks, and even cinnamon rolls. Sara had difficulty making pretzel shapes with the dough (it’s very sticky). If you’re interested, go online and search for “2 ingredient (insert type)” and you’ll find many websites with the same recipe and perhaps more instructions for making the other varieties.Sara used the recipe from a website called Recipe Diaries. You might want to go there and check out some of Jenna’s hints about handling the dough (refrigerate it before shaping). The complete recipe (4 servings) amounts to 11 WW points, in case you’re following their nutrition/diet style.

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2 Ingredient Dough

Recipe By: Recipe Diaries blog (follows Weight Watcher’s)
Serving Size: 4

1 cup Greek yogurt, fat-free
1 cup self-rising flour
1 egg — for wash

1. Mix flour and yogurt together in bowl. Either spray Pam on your hands or dust hands with more flour as dough is sticky. Knead dough until smooth.
2. Divide into 4ths and shape into whatever you want. (I’ve made sandwich rolls, bagels – my preference – pizza crust, hotdog buns…)
3. Place on parchment paper on baking sheet. Whisk egg and brush onto dough. Then sprinkle with whatever topping sounds good. I love the Everything Seasoning from Trader Joe’s or Costco. I’ve also sprinkled mini chocolate chips, herbs and parmesan…. be creative!
4. Bake at 350°F for 22 minutes.
Per Serving: 160 Calories; 2g Fat (8.9% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 26g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 53mg Cholesterol; 437mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, lectin-free, on December 21st, 2018.

LF_GF_bishops_bread

Most of you won’t appreciate what a masterpiece I think this is. Those of you who are willing to eat wheat and lectins, etc. can disregard this post.

It’s only been in the last 4-6 weeks that I’ve been feeling a frustration with my Plant Paradox diet, the one that doesn’t allow beans, rice, potatoes, winter squashes, bread, corn, tortillas, peas, corn, wheat flour of any kind, etc. For about 8 months I’ve been following the Stephen Gundry diet, and it’s still working, albeit very slowly. But as Christmas was approaching, I was feeling a lot of sadness that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my favorite Bishop’s Bread since it contains a flour-based batter. I decided I was going to “fix” that. I began researching online at several websites that offer recommendations about how to adapt a recipe to GF or LF (lectin-free) or both.

Initially I began with creating a combination of alternate “flours.” It’s 2:1:1 of almond flour, coconut flour and cassava flour (the latter is a flour made from yuca, a tuber, which also produces tapioca). These flours are readily available now at some mainstream grocery stores. I buy the almond flour at Costco, and the other two I bought locally, but have also purchased on amazon. I also purchased xanthan gum, an ingredient you’ll often find in GF foods – it’s not a requirement, but it helps hold things together – baked goods mostly. I also learned that it’s best to double the amount of leavening – in this case it was baking powder, since the rising agent has to work harder in GF mixtures to accomplish the same amount of lift.

With trepidation I began mixing up my bread. First I mixed up my alternative sugar too – I used half Swerve and half regular sugar – with eggs. You don’t get the same kind of lemony smooth texture from Swerve, but I mixed them well enough. I’d added the xanthan gum and baking powder to the flour mixture. And just before combining everything I tossed in the halved maraschino cherries, chocolate chips (Ghiradelli dark) and chopped walnuts into the flour mixture. Technically I shouldn’t have sugar, the sweetened cherries or any chocolate less than 90% cacao. But to enjoy this treat, I figured I wouldn’t be using all that much of it. Or eating all that much of it.

The batter was scraped into a bread pan – I used a 9” loaf pan, but next time I might try to use one of my narrower pans instead as this loaf isn’t as high as usual. In the photo at top, those are 2 slices of the bread you can see, each about 1 1/2 inches high. I baked the loaf for 45 minutes and it was almost over done, but it seemed good as it cooled. I couldn’t wait to upend it and slice off a piece. I waited about an hour and was just thrilled when I took my first bite. Oh, heaven!

When I make this again, I will increase the amount of batter, but leave the additions the same, which will take longer to bake, of course. But I’m a happy camper enjoying a narrow slice of this every other day or so. I mixed up a bigger batch of the alternative flours so I can try it in some other recipe, maybe for a biscuit kind of thing.

What’s GOOD: this means I can enjoy this treat during December after all, although I should be limited on how much. I’m rationing it out to myself so it won’t be gone by Christmas. The bread tastes every bit as good as the regular version and I was happy with the light crumb of the bread/batter aspect. It’s not heavy at all.

What’s NOT: only the acquiring of the oddball alternative flours. Otherwise, this was a cinch.

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LF GF Bishops Bread

Recipe By: my own recipe, 2018
Serving Size: 14

FLOUR SUBSTITUTE MIX:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cassava flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
BREAD:
3/4 cup flour substitute (above)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar — scant
1/4 cup Swerve — scant
1 cup walnuts — chopped
1/2 cup Maraschino cherries — halved, drained
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

FLOUR SUBSTITUTES: Combine in a bowl the almond, cassava and coconut flours. Mix well so there are no lumps. Store unused flour at room temp.
1. Combine in a bowl the 3/4 cup of the substitute flour mix, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. Use a whisk or your hands to mix this well. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare bread pan by placing a piece of cut-to-fit waxed paper in the bottom. Use an 8″ bread pan if you have one.
3. Using a mixer, combine the eggs, Swerve and sugar. Mix well. Using Swerve won’t give you the same consistency as you’re used to with eggs/sugar. Just mix it well.
4. Add the maraschino cherries to the bowl of flour and toss so the wet cherries are coated in the flour mixture. Add walnuts and chocolate chips and mix thoroughly. Pour the egg mixture into the flour/fruit mixture and stir well to combine, making sure there are no lumps of flour.
5. Scrape into a bread pan, smooth top and bake for about 40-45 minutes. When the sides of the bread turn golden brown, the bread is done. Remove to cool on a rack for about 30-45 minutes, then invert and set back right side up to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Use 1/4″ or slightly thicker slices to serve. Using a serrated knife may be useful.
Per Serving (not quite accurate as the alternate flours aren’t included): 147 Calories; 9g Fat (47.9% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 30mg Cholesterol; 144mg Sodium.

Posted in Appetizers, Breads, on September 12th, 2018.

cheesy_shrimp_garlic_bread

Oh my, garlic bread, but on steroids. This is ciabatta bread, sliced in half horizontally, piled with a bunch of cheeses, tomatoes and shrimp. With a bunch of other flavor enhancers added in too.

Having had this at a cooking class, my friend Cherrie and I decided that after having had the watermelon blueberry drink, then this garlic bread, that could have been our “dinner,” and we’d have happily gone home. Not really, but we were somewhat full when we got done with this. (Although, I didn’t eat any of the bread – – the topping was wonderful, just sayin’.)

If you’re ever wanting to have some amped up kind of garlic bread – this is it – and you could serve this without the shrimp as a bread to go with a bowl of soup. If it was fish soup, then the shrimp would be fine there! You could also cut this up into much smaller squares and put it out on a buffet table.

What it is is delicious. Unctuous in my book. All that cheesy stuff going on. Shrimp is cooked through barely, then you add in chopped tomatoes and garlic. Then you chop up the shrimp a bit (or do it ahead of time, which might be easier) and add mayo, lemon juice, mozzarella and Parm. That gets piled onto the top of the ciabatta bread, sprinkled with more cheese (plus some Fontina there also), baked for 18-20 minutes, and garnish with chopped parsley. Phillis Carey made this at a class, and she happened to have bacon fat in a frying pan because she’d cooked up a bunch of bacon for a salad, so she cooked the shrimp in the bacon grease. Which might have made this even more tasty.

You can do all of the work ahead of time, except for piling the mixture on top of the bread – then you bake it. Easy peasy.

What’s GOOD: all the cheesy flavors are wonderful. Gooey deliciousness. The shrimp add something different – bet you’ve never had garlic bread with shrimp on the top, have you?

What’s not: nothing that I can think of. Really good dish.

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Cheesy Shrimp Garlic Bread

Recipe By: Cooking class, Phillis Carey, 2018
Serving Size: 6 (I think more than that)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 packages shrimp — cleaned, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 tomatoes — diced
3 cloves garlic — minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese — grated
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1 small ciabatta loaf — halved horizontally, lengthwise
TOPPING:
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese — grated
1/4 cup Fontina cheese — grated
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley — chopped

NOTE: Buy a thin ciabbatta loaf if possible, i.e. you do not want height with this as it will be too bready.
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter (if you have bacon fat on hand, use that). Add chopped shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook until pink and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes, then stir in tomatoes and garlic and cook until fragrant, about one more minute. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Transfer shrimp to a bowl and mix with mayo, lemon juice, zest mozzarella and Parm. Season with more salt and pepper.
3. Spread shrimp mixture onto bread and add toppings: more Mozzarella, Fontina, Parm. Bake until bread is crispy and cheese is bubbly and golden on top, 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and add parsley immediately (so it sticks to the bubbly cheese). Cool for 2-4 minutes only, then cut into stick-sized portions and serve.
Per Serving: 393 Calories; 20g Fat (46.1% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 38mg Cholesterol; 548mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, on August 29th, 2018.

pumpkin_cr_cheese_muffins_tin

(A post from Sara) These very tasty muffins are great to stuff in my son’s lunches or for snacks. Full of flavor and warm fall spices.

pumpkin_cr_cheese_muffin_batterMy 18-year old H.S. senior son plays football. And he eats a LOT. When my husband and I recently went on Weight Watcher’s, my son lost weight he didn’t need to. Although he says he’s fine at his new, lower weight, he needs tons of calories (and carbs) during football season. That’s like NOW. So, even though I’m not baking much these days, I still need to make things for John.

My mom, Carolyn, was visiting over the weekend, so we made these muffins. ‘Tis the season for pumpkin, and I knew John would like the combination of pumpkin and cream cheese. The recipe is supposed to be a copycat of Starbuck’s version. I found it at Genius Kitchen, but as my mom and I read all the comments (many) we decided to change the recipe some. And after we had made half of them we decided to change it a little bit more.

cr_cheese_fillingThere was cocoa in the recipe, and although we used it, we both decided it didn’t add anything. You couldn’t taste chocolate, so why bother, right? We were glad we didn’t add molasses, but we did up the spices a lot. It called for 1 1/4 cups of oil – we decided to use 3/4 cup of buttermilk and 1/2 cup of oil instead (suggested in one of the comments). These were still very moist and tender. And the biggest tweak we did was, for each muffin cup, to pour 2/3 of the batter in first (instead of half which was the instruction in the original recipe), then spoon the cream cheese filling (a brick of cream cheese, an egg, some sugar and vanilla) across the middle, then we spooned the remaining batter on top, but left some of the cream cheese portion visible. We thought it made these much more interesting to look at.

So, there was a little bit of quality control going on that day – my mom had a couple of bites – and I ate a little bit too. Even though a muffin isn’t on either of our diets. But we needed to tell you these were good, right? And they were. I’d definitely make these again (when I’m off a low carb diet!). All the muffins are safely stored in my freezer to be pulled out as needed.

What’s GOOD: the warm fall spices were the best part, I think. And the look of the top – the cream cheese peeking through. Loved the pumpkin flavor, of course. We thought next time we might use more nuts on top – we were very stingy with them. Be generous.

What’s NOT: only that you do have to make 2 batters, but really, the cream cheese one isn’t difficult in the least. My muffin tin is a bit on the small side, so we got more muffins from this recipe than it indicated. If you have larger muffin tins, of course, you’ll yield fewer. Just so you know . . .

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Serving Size: 32
Recipe By: Adapted from Genius Kitchen

FILLING:
8 ounces cream cheese — softened
1 large egg
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
MUFFINS:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
chopped pecans for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Mix cream cheese with one egg and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.
3. Combine all the dry ingredients (not the nuts) in a medium mixing bowl and use a whisk to mix everything together well. In another large bowl combine eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk and oil, and use a whisk to mix thoroughly. Pour dry mixture into the liquid mixture and stir until all lumps are gone.
6. Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) two-thirds full.
7. Spoon cream cheese cross-wise in the middle with some reaching to the outside edge. Spoon remaining one-third muffin batter on top, allowing some of the cream cheese filling to show, if possible. Sprinkle pecans (or other nuts of your choice) on top.
8. Bake for 18- 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin (do not test in the cream cheese part).
9. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until it cools.
Per Serving: 168 Calories; 7g Fat (36.5% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 41mg Cholesterol; 145mg Sodium.

Posted in Breads, Brunch, on April 13th, 2018.

budapest_coffeecake_slice

Lovely, tasty coffeecake with a cinnamon and nut filling, made in a Bundt pan.

It’s been years now, I’ve been on a quest. A friend and I went on a Los Angeles gourmet crawl of some kind. It was daytime, and we visited a variety of restaurants and food emporiums. When we paused at a catering place in Santa Monica (I think it was) they served us each a little slice of a Hungarian coffee cake. I was smitten. I asked if they’d share the recipe. Uh, NO. That coffeecake didn’t look like this coffeecake, I’m sorry to say – it was much darker colored batter/cake. It was made in either a Bundt or a tube pan and it had cinnamon in it, some nuts too. It was just so divine. Ever since (and this has been 25 or more years ago) I’ve looked in cookbooks at the library, on the internet, etc. to try to find a recipe for a dark battered coffee cake. But when I looked at THIS recipe I thought well, definitely not a dark batter, but it sounded good nonetheless.

budapest_coffeecake_wholeThe recipe came from Food52, and is credited to Maida Heatter, that diva of all things sweet, and comes from a 1999 cookbook she published. I followed the recipe to a T; however, I’ve made one little change in the directions. When served, as I cut my fork into the cake, it toppled over right where the filling was – because the filling was dry and unto itself. So I’ve added one step – running a knife through the batter and filling layer to help adhere the cake and filling together. Obviously I didn’t do that with the one I made, but it’s such a minor change, you might not even be aware of it. Hopefully, the cake will hold together better.

The filling consists of cinnamon, cocoa, nuts, dark brown sugar and some chopped up raisins. As you layer the sour cream rich batter in the greased Bundt pan, you sprinkle on the filling. Just run your knife through as you add each layer of filling. I didn’t use quite all of the dry filling. It’s baked for 50-60 minutes (I’d lean toward 60 if you make this yourself). I used the toothpick test, but found when I served it that the cake toward the center was still quite wet – I took my cake out of the oven at 50 minutes. Anyway, the cake is cooled, then plated and drizzled with an easy icing.

What’s GOOD: my favorite part was the filling, and the raisins in it. They add a special bit of sweetness. It’s a nice batter – not overly moist, actually, considering there’s 2 cups of sour cream in the batter. The cake part is relatively nondescript, as it’s the filling that makes it.

What’s NOT: nothing really.

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Maida Heatter’s Budapest Coffee Cake

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts, 1999
Serving Size: 12

NUT FILLING:
3/4 cup dark brown sugar — firmly packed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
3 tablespoons raisins — coarsely chopped (dark or golden)
1 cup toasted walnuts — finely chopped
CAKE BATTER:
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces butter — (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs — at room temperature
2 cups sour cream — at room temperature
ICING:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons hot milk — (2 to 3)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. NUT FILLING: In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Set aside.
2. CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350° F and butter a 10-inch Bundt pan.
3. Into a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Using a paddle attachment of a stand mixer, cream the butter. Add 2 teaspoons of the vanilla and the sugar and beat on medium speed for a minute or two.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating each until just incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl, as necessary, to keep mixture smooth. Beat at high speed until mixture is light and creamy, about 1 minute.
5. Turn mixer to low speed. Add dry ingredients in three additions and sour cream in two additions, beating only until smooth after each addition.
6. Spread a thin layer of batter in bottom of prepared pan. Sometimes it’s easier to use a small spoon to drop some batter into pan, and then to smooth it together. Top with 1/3 of nut mixture. Run a knife, zigzagging slightly through the batter. Repeat until you have 4 layers of batter into pan and smooth it together. Use a knife to zigzag once with each layer of filling. Top layer will be batter and it’s not necessary to run the knife through that layer.
7. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in center of cake comes clean. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes, then turn out and re-invert on a rack.
8. Combine confectioners’ sugar, hot milk, and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a small bowl. Mix well. Mixture should have the consistency of a thick cream sauce. Place a sheet of wax paper underneath a cooling rack. Pour glaze over cake, letting it run down the sides, while still hot. When glaze is set, transfer cake to a serving plate. Serve cake warm or at room temp.
Per Serving: 611 Calories; 27g Fat (39.1% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 86g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 101mg Cholesterol; 470mg Sodium.

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