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Archive for the ‘Baked Goods’ Category
Friday, April 5th, 2013
Since Jen, Matt, Joy, Rebecca, Ellen, and Ashley were all such excellent sports about flying all the way to New England to meet up with me for a weekend to learn about maple sugaring (thank you best host ever Arnold Coombs), I figured the least I could do is arrange for them to have a class at King Arthur Flour. What’s say I gush a bit about King Arthur Flour? First, you’ve got Jeffrey Hamelman the man who opened KAF’s bakery and teaching facility, and trained some of the finest bakers in Maine (love those bagels at Scratch in South Portland and the sweets at Standard Bakery in Portland…how about giving a nod his way). Then, there is King Arthur Flour’s longtime support of the local grain economy – KAF’s sponsorship of the Kneading Conference (two days of intensive hands-on workshops covering topics such as sustainable grain cultivation, bread baking and earth-oven construction) ensures it remains an annual event. Finally, on a personal level, there is the Baking Kit donated for the baking classes I’m doing with my friend Ilma (amazing pastry chef at Grace Restaurant in Portland) at two of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine centers.
Susan Miller, the Director of the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center, arranged for our little group to have a pizza making workshop led by super sweet instructor Michelle Kupiec. We learned how to make Semolina Pizza Dough and Pizza Dough. Can we say intimidating?? Put me in a field and I’m in my element, but in a baking center surrounded by professional/semi-professional bakers…um…just being set up to fail. It was such a fun experience I didn’t even mind that my pizzas were not as pretty or likely delicious as everyone else’s…it was not a competition..it was a learning experience. For my part I was psyched just to get to share a table with my friend Rebecca..the uber talented/smart/savvy/sassy/beautiful spirit behind the hugely successful blog Ezra Pound Cake. Let me tell you, that woman knows what to do with flour and water. Darn!
Ashley and her divine looking/tasting pizzas. I kept having not to pinch myself (hello, ouch) that she was there. This is the woman whose beekeeping and raising chicken books helped get my own bee/chicken projects started. She’s an incredibly smart and interesting woman and such a terrific momma. If more mothers were like her this world would be a much healthier, safer, funner place. I am still learning from her…and just you wait till her party and drink books come out next year…oh some fun to be had!!
Matt Armendariz is one of the savviest marketing/branding folks I’ve met in a long while and the maker of G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S photographs. That’s he’s as gifted and generous as he is says a lot of positive things about his mama (again if we had more like her, and him in this world). M.A., you’ll always be Mr. Baby to me, if that’s OK with you.
King Arthur Flour’s Baking Education Center classes run the gamut from introductory demonstrations to intensive, week-long courses for the professional, along with hands-on classes for children and home bakers. Fore more information visit their website. ox
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Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
Upon my return from the Hudson River Valley, I had a couple days to catch up on work/homestead stuff before hitting the road for my next excursion….The Coombs Family Farms Blogger Maple Weekend. I’d assisted with the organizing, and some of my favorite people were going to be there so…with little sleep I essentially tossed stuff into a bag , picked up coffee (aka NASA injected fuel from Starbucks) on the highway and hummed my way to Logan Airport.
Here’s what went down from there…
After a few hugs at the airport….Rebecca (p.s. check out her Flour Bakery’s Coconut Macaroons post), Matt, Joy and I met up with Joanne Chang (she is so nice & I cannot wait for her new cookbook coming out next month) for a tour of the South End location of Flour Bakery and to pickup some yummy baked goods. My special treat was a Homemade Raspberry Seltzer (aka the most delicious thirst quenching drink ever and can anyone say Homemade Oreos…OMG OMG OMG).
Another trip to the airport and Jen (check out her gorgeous, thoughtful post on our trip here) and I were back with the gang plus Ellen at Barbara Lynch’s The Butcher Shop for dinner. By the time Ashley and her family joined us (after a harrowing parking ordeal courtesy of Boston) we had a long table full of boards of sausages, pâtés and terrines made in house. *One of the reasons The Butcher Shop is one of my favorite restaurants, is because of Chef Lynch’s attention to detail and her enthusiasm for producers (to the extent that she’s visited farms, developed relationships w/ certain farmers, fishermen…). The restaurant works with several farms in the surrounding states, and sources much of their raw meat from Brown Boar farm in VT and Burn Shirt Valley farm in MA. *The Pickled Vegetables and Marcona Almonds were lovely with the Parmesan!
Later that evening, after a snowy drive on quiet roads we arrived at the Chesterfield Inn B&B in New Hampshire. In my room I put up my feet and sat by the fire. Toasty!
Breakfast at the inn (oh you know pancakes, eggs, fresh fruit..lots of pure maple syrup), then off to a small sugarhouse in Guilford, VT, that Arnold Coombs cousin Ted operates (they have about 800 taps and a wood fired evaporator). When Arnold was four or five years old he would help Ted’s father tap trees near his house. Arnold’s family’s sugarhouse in Wilmington, VT boiled sap from over 26,000 trees. In the early 1970s, Arnold’s dad moved into a sugarhouse in Jacksonville, VT near Arnold’s childhood home, and they tapped about 800 trees with buckets. Some of those trees were tapped by Arnold’s great and great-great grandfathers (Arnold is the seventh generation in the industry).
If you’ve ever been to a sugarhouse and stood by an evaporator you know how wonderful that steam rising up out of it is – sweet, mapley ..comforting. I’d like a machine to reproduce that in my home every night. Ted welcomed us in, engaged us in conversation, talked about building up the fire, his years sugaring. I spend a lot of time with farmers, and what I always focus on are their hands – those beautiful lines, marks, smudges that define their hardworking days in and out for month on end. Ted’s were well worn and spoke of character, history, New England sugaring. He showed me how the evaporator sits up and the back doors to the sugarhouse only go down to about one’s ankles to allow more air in to help get the fire going. I wish everyone who enjoys pure maple syrup could meet people like Ted and Arnold, so they could appreciate how much physical labor and smarts goes into that golden bliss.
Being as we were visiting during the middle of their sugaring season (it was just getting going further north in Canada), we got to tap trees, gather some sap and boil maple syrup. We also got to eat Sugar on Snow!!
Sugar on Snow
Dill pickles are served to cleanse the palate.
Another tradition, donuts…for dipping! Cindy Finck made these, she’s a great cook and baker who works with Arnold. They’ve been family friends for years.
Next up…the Coombs Family Farms Maple Candy Kitchen in Brattleboro, VT. We saw maple candy being made and packaged by hand. (Let me tell you, so we’re clear…chocolate covered maple candy is about the sweetest…nicest…thing anyone could gift you – Cindy had some waiting for each of us in our rooms.) This is one of three (soon to be two) maple candy factories.
Maple candies ready for packaging
The crash course in sugaring took us to Bascom Maple Farm (Arnold is the Director of Sales and Marketing of Bascom, which is run by his childhood friend Bruce Bascom) in Alstead, NH. Bascom boils sap from about 75,000 taps (and purchases a great deal more from producers in New England and Canada), is the leading supplier of bulk maple syrup & bulk maple sugar, and is the largest distributor of sugaring equipment in the country.
As part of Bascom and Coombs commitment to sustainable maple forestry, they maintain and practice a sustainable forest management plan. They use tree-friendly health spouts, and never jeopardize tree health by over-tapping – two taps per average-sized tree is their maximum. They also use energy-saving reverse osmosis that reduces their energy consumption by 75%.
Low impact vacuum tubing helps them protect the fragile root systems of the trees. The vacuum tubes can carry the sap from thousands of trees to one central holding tank, reducing the need for roads to collect sap from buckets, and so minimizing the compacting of soil that can wreak havoc on tree roots and cover vegetation that healthy forests need to thrive.
Our minds full we stopped at L.A. Burdick in Walpole to caffeinate before heading back to the inn. We rested, recharged, and enjoyed a delicious dinner courtesy of Arnold including Maple Walnut Bread and Savory Muffins, Grilled Salmon with Maple Sugar Dry Spice Rub and Cinnamon Maple Butter (delicious!!), and a variety of dessert options.
More on our Sunday adventure at King Arthur Flour to come…. ox
p.s. Books I recommend for those who want to learn more on Sugaring:
Maple Sugar:From Sap to Syrup: The History, Lore, and How-To Behind This Sweet Treat by Tim Herd
Maple Sugarin’ in Vermont: A Sweet History by Betty Ann Lockhart
Suggestions on serving pure maple syrup from The Official Vermont Maple Cookbook 3rd edition: on hot cereal, on grapefruit or other fruit (I like this when broiled), on plain yogurt, on ice cream, in a milk shake, in coffee or tea (you haven’t lived till you’ve had a maple latte), poured over a butternut or acorn squash, in stir fry dishes (heck, yes), and baked in bread or muffins (don’t have to tell me twice). *Personally, I think it’s also delicious in granola mixes and in sugar form sprinkled on bacon and baked for 10-15 minutes..holy cow!!
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Sunday, January 13th, 2013
My friend Ilma (a pro pastry chef) and I are holding baking classes with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Maine. With the support of Good Shepherd Food Bank we are teaching Middle School age kids cooking skills and a byproduct social skills (patience, sharing, responsibility). King Arthur Flour basically rocked our world/program by donating a Baking Kit. **This is not something they normally do, but were incredibly gracious to provide after we put in a special request.
For our first class we made Rice Krispie Bars (okay, not at all healthy but a fun and super easy first project Ilma smartly suggested to engage the kids) and No Bake Granola Bars (a little healthier). Future classes we’re thinking about meaty pot pies and pizza.
Rice Krispie Treats
3 tbs butter
10 oz marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies
Melt butter, add and melt marshmallows. Combine with Rice Krispies. Mixture will harden fast. Mold into balls or bars. Enjoy.
No Bake Granola Bars
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup steel-cut oats
1 cup rice krispies
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit (your choice)
1/2 cup almonds (slivers will work if that’s what you’ve got on hand)
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Combine all ingredients, roll into balls, enjoy.
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Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
I know a lot of us don’t feel very jolly right now, but we owe it to ourselves and all the lost innocents to take in every breath of wonder this season has to offer..don’t you think!?
What brings me calm and joy.
My favorite poem, not just of the season, but anytime of the year. May we all know such beauty and peace.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., renewed 1951, by Robert Frost. Reprinted with the permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)
Snowy mornings at home in Maine.
The Scratch Bakery gingerbread house. WOW!
Giving with others to those in need. Thank you friends and dear readers for stepping forward. May we help create smiles on young faces where there were none.
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Monday, December 3rd, 2012
A couple weeks ago during the fighting between Israel and Palestine I was saddened like many of my friends by what we were hearing and seeing, but more I was worried about my friend Ariella Amshalem and her sweet family in Jerusalem.
Over a series of weeks in 2009 (when I lived outside Boston, MA), Ariella showed me how to make lovely, flaky pie crusts and accomplish a few other confectionary triumphs as the head instructor of a baking course I took at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. At the end of the program I threw a bake-off and got to know some of my classmates and instructors a bit better. Ariella brought the lightest, most delicious fruit tart. I baked Gina De Palma’s Citrus-Glazed Polenta Cake, and let me tell you I was nervous about her trying it. (Thinking back, I thought it tasted great and if she disagreed she was way too sweet to say anything to the contrary.)
We spent the next year-and-a-half having bagels and coffee talking for hours about life and food. Ultimately, I moved back to Maine and she to Israel. We stay in touch via Facebook, email and our blogs. Ariella’s is the wonderful Ari Cooks, where she posts about cooking and baking from a small Jerusalem kitchen. She came for a visit this past summer with her husband and daughter, which was a real treat.
A few months after Ariella had moved back to Jerusalem there was a bus bombing there, and while I knew the chances she was involved were slim I wrote her immediately to check in and make sure she and her loved ones were safe. That was in March, 2011 and I hadn’t been worried about her safety until recently.
Ariella and her family are safe and sound, wandering the outdoor markets and cooking for family and friends. Life goes on, even when one’s city is being bombed or part of a cease-fire. A terrific post I haven’t been able to get out of my head is one Ariella shared on Facebook during the bombings… ”Coffee with a Side of Rockets” by blogger Liz Steinberg from her kitchen in Tel Aviv, the other largest city in Israel.
Inspired by the delicious sounding post Ariella wrote recently featuring Vegan Jelly Donut Cupcakes, a recipe she slightly adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero’s Veganomicon, I thought it would be thoughtful to have her write a little bit about preparing for Hanukkah in Jerusalem.
Ariella, shelling fresh garbanzo beans
As we head into December here in Jerusalem, the weather has finally turned cold, damp and gray. In the absence of central heating, we are huddled around space heaters and bundled up in sweaters and blankets at home in the evenings. I find more and more excuses to turn on my little oven and bake, reading recipes with my hands wrapped around a cup of hot mint tea. When I pick my daughter up from school, the sun is already low in the sky as we walk through the wet, uneven streets of our neighborhood. She squeals and points at the dozens of cats we pass, at how adorably they are curled up together, at the curb, under cars, trying to get warm and waiting for the scraps of food the old ladies feed them.
In the market – the Shuk – I pull my wheeled canvas cart through the alleys and shops and bump into every local mother I know. After thanking my produce vendor for saving me a box of richly red cooking tomatoes, I join crowds for the walk up the narrow thoroughfare, past bakery shelves piled with sufganiot – Hanukkah doughnuts – filled with jam, chocolate, pastry cream and dulce de leche. We brace ourselves for more cold ahead, tempered for now by powdered sugar-topped treats and the sight of candles in every window. חג שמח
Olives in the shuk
Olive trees in the Valley near Ariella’s home
Pictures by Ariella Amshalem
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Monday, November 19th, 2012
I suppose it’s time to give into the fact that it’s Thanksgiving. Halloween buzzed by and before you know it the stores will be stocked with pink and red hearts, but for now for the next week it’s all about turkey and stuffing and all that yummy stuff you wedge between a couple slices of bread for days after while cheering on your favorite team (in this case “my” Arkansas Razorbacks vs. LSU). This is the week I’ll get to spend an entire day in the kitchen cooking with Pandora cranked up prepping for friends (who know something about good food) to arrive for dinner (an early one, I don’t care for going to bed stuffed). I’ll make President Tyler’s Pudding Pie and the Wild Mushroom, Leek, and Filbert Dressing from Martha Stewart Living, this Fresh Cranberry Relish from Saveur (which is like the one I’ve made in the past but with apples – and I still have a bunch from the Apple CSA to use up), Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon and Maple (this is a bourbon and maple syrup-loving household!) from Bon Appetit, and steam brussels sprouts. I’ll use Arnold’s maple syrup on pancakes for breakfast and with those sweet potatoes, and for those who like it in coffee.
A few weeks ago I picked up the November issue of Martha Stewart Living, just as I have every year since I graduated from university and began working at Miramax Films where the most glamorous of publicists extolled the virtues of Martha’s Thanksgiving recipes. Almost every year I’ve found something to make from it. Last year was a disturbingly blah issue, so I turned to Garden & Gun and everything was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!!! Why go back, well because I like to try new recipes at Thanksgiving….it’s my one chance to cook BIG. I couldn’t resist this recipe or the pie that came with it, which I’ll admit dear readers I ate ALL of. Yes, it’s true all by myself no sharing. Not one crumb left this household. I didn’t eat it all at once though (that would have surely ended in a food coma or an onset of diabetes), but throughout the week. I’m paying for it at the gym and trying to remind myself it’s the holidays I’ll do better in the new year. Anyhow, how on earth could I not share it with you? This delicious pie, so yummy. My advice, don’t make it for Thanksgiving unless you’re fully prepared to share. Seriously, make two just in case – one for you and one for the dinner.
Sorghum-Sweetened Chocolate Pecan Pie from November issue of Martha Stewart Living
Piecrust (pre-made whether from scratch or frozen)
1/3 all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten (I used mine from Great Cluck Egg Farm)
3 Tbsp bourbon
1/2 cup sorghum (I used molasses, it’s what’s available in Maine)
1 cup pecans (4 oz.), toasted & coarsely chopped
4 oz. semisweet chocolate (preferably 61% cacao), finely chopped (1 cup)
1 stick unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in eggs to combine, then stir in bourbon, sorghum, pecans, and chocolate. Melt butter, and pour over mixture; stir until thoroughly combined. Pour filling into crust, and bake until top is set but center is slightly gooey, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely (really, trust me it’s no where near as good when warm believe it or not) on a wire rack, about 1 1/2 hours.
Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart Living (what can I say, I was too busy oohing and aahing over the thing to take pictures of it).
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Monday, October 22nd, 2012
Here’s what I did this weekend:
Technically, not the weekend yet…Thursday night I watched the new documentary on Ethel Kennedy, an insider’s view of the Kennedy dynasty.
Friday night I was invited to a Wine & Cheese Tasting at Whole Foods Market in Portland. We sampled five wines and an ice cider and eight cheeses from the Cellars at Jasper Hill.
When I found out I was lactose intolerant my senior year of college I argued with the doctors and my body. How, after spending three years on a near lactic diet of pizza, tuna melts, ice cream and let us not forget Sal’s blue cheese dip that went nicely with the greasiest of wings…how on earth could I be intolerant to it!? Let’s just say my futile attempts to convince my body otherwise did not go well. Flash forward more than a decade, I’m in Whole Foods Market in Portland explaining to the woman behind the cheese counter what I can and cannot eat. Goat and sheep, check. Cow, nope. Maybe it was because she was so nice, or it could have just been she knew a heck of a lot about cheese, but she encouraged me to try an aged cheese – it has less lactose she said, and I did. It was a two or three bite size sample of a cheese that left me wanting a lot more of it (and my body was OK with it!). That was the day I met Shannon (a fellow Chicago Bears fan) and the moment I fell hard for Jasper Hill’s Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.
It was also the beginning of a less than scientific study of how tolerant my body could be with cheese. Portion size it seems has a lot to do with it (and alas no milkshakes). Anyhow, the Cellars at Jasper Hill …conjures up a magical (I’d like to think this Harry Potter style and all) place set in reality in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. A concrete bunker (aka cave) built by Andy and Mateo Kehler with climate-controlled rooms where batches of cheese are tasted, tracked and analyzed till they are released to the public.
Sunday I went back to the store and picked up some of Jasper Hill’s Alfa Tolman and Cabot Clothbound and a bottle of the Lockhart, Pinot Noir to go with them.
*For more information on Jasper Hill Farm and the Cellars, pickup Issue # 15 of Diner Journal (published 2010) with the thoughtful article by Annaliese Griffin on Jasper Hill Farm and The Cellars’ system.
Landaff by Landaff Creamery, aged at Jasper Hill
What does one do after eating cheese and drinking wine? Go do dinner of course. A business associate in town for a couple days invited me to dinner. Having heard raves about Grace recently I suggested we go there and was not disappointed.
Since I’m eating dessert these days (giving myself thru the holidays then I’ll wean myself off sugar again), I supported ordering multiple desserts. After all, this place is known for their pastry chef Ilma Lopez. Next time I’m doing the same, only I might order two servings of the Bananas as I’m not wont to share that dish again YUM!
Bittersweet – Layered Chocolate Cake w/ 72% Ice Cream and White Chocolate Crumble
Figs – Lemon Curd, Honey Meringue and Yogurt Sherbert
Bananas – Toasted Hazelnuts, Milk Chocolate Cream and Vanilla Marshmallows
I finished this book, read this article on Larry Flynt in The New York Times(online) and the November issues of Saveur. Penny de los Santos images inspire and the article “Cassanova Nation” is no exception.
While listening to the Donovan Frankenreiter station on Pandora I stitched a few coasters for friends from a couple of the fabrics I picked up at Alewives Fabrics (thanks again SL for pointing me there).
Saturday night, still exhausted from getting back late Friday night and up early for the chickens, I stayed in and downloaded the medical comedy/drama “Emily Owens, M.D.” starring Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter). It’s really good. *I cannot stand ads so network television is pretty much out for me as it is (unless it’s football), thus I usually wait till midway through or the end of a season and download episodes onto my laptop. According to Wiki.answers: A typical 1 hour TV show has 16 minutes of commercials. No thanks!
Sunday I attended a signing with Blue Bottle Coffee Co.‘s James and Caitlin Freeman at Tandem Coffee Roasters for their new book The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee: Growing, Roasting, and Drinking, with Recipes. I picked up a copy there from Rabelais (a co-host of the event). *Check out the book trailer (video produced by White on Rice Couple) and take a glance at my first BBC experience.
The book is about coffee growing, roasting, drinking and the food that goes with it anytime of the day. A little something sweet to think about dear readers is the recipe for Saffron-Vanilla Snickerdoodles in the ever so perfectly titled chapter “Perfect for Dunking”… Okay, pause…the truth of it is I’ve never been a coffee dunker. Or a tea dunker or really any kind of dunker…nope, not even as a kid did I dunk Oreos into my milk. It’s never too late to try, right?? and maybe this will be it. Or maybe not, and I’ll just make these ever so soulful sounding cookies and munch on them between sips of coffee or tea.
James Freeman wrote this book for the kind and enthusiastic people who line up for his coffee. As someone who has and certainly remains enthusiastic about it, let me say thank you James for creating good coffee and now this book, which I look forward to reading so I may better understand coffee.
Want to know more about Tandem (where I’ll be found when in town) check out this article on Sprudge (the coffee news site pointed out to me by my knowledgeable coffee friend Anestes.
During half-time I made Smitten Kitchen’s Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel using Wealthy and Smokehouse Apples from Out on a Limb Heritage Apple CSA.
A fun bit on Wealthy apples from the CSA site: Cherry crab seedling. Excelsior, MN, 1868. One of the most famous of the hardy all-purpose varieties, Wealthy is also considered to be a standout among pie apples. If you want to try a single-variety crisp or pie this week, try one with Wealthy. At peak ripeness, the flavor is more sweet than tart, and the texture is soft without being mushy. Just before it’s ripe, the pie flavor tends to be slightly tart. Wealthy makes a tart, creamy sauce. It’s also a good acid source for fermented cider. Our old friend, long-time orchardist, 96-year-old Francis Fenton of Sandy River Orchards, believes Wealthy—not McIntosh—should be the favorite commercial apple of northern New England. The trees his father planted in Mercer 105 years ago are still going strong.
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Sunday, October 14th, 2012
Three words: Chocolate…Bourbon…Spiked. Heck ya! Joy Wilson, aka the beloved Joy the Baker, is a bit of a comfort food recipe rock star in my world. If your read my blog this past summer you might know about my near obsession with her Kale Spinach Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie, then there’s her (I recently discovered this one – as in while the Chocolate Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread was in the oven) Parmesan Seaweed Popcorn, Coffee Bacon and Blueberry Orange and Almond Pancakes with Orange Maple Glaze. Let’s just say I have to peel the pages off each other from all the use my copy of Joy’s cookbook gets. So, most likely will you if you get a copy!
Now, it’s time for Chocolate…Bourbon…Spiked. xo
Mommom’s Chocolate Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread from Joy Wilson’s Joy the Baker Cookbook.
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 tsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp bourbon
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8×4 or 9×5 inch loaf pan. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add bananas, lemon juice, and bourbon. Beat until well incorporate.
Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat until almost incorporated. Stop the mixer and remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the walnuts and chocolate chips and incorporate the rest of the ingredients with a spatula.
Spoon mixture into loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow loaf to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with milky coffee and enjoy.
Banana bread will keep for up to 5 days, well wrapped, at room temperature.
Yield: Makes one 8 x 4 inch on 9 x 5 inch loaf.
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Sunday, October 7th, 2012
I found myself at Lowe’s for the second day in a row yesterday picking up all the accoutrements needed to create a safe and comfortable space for the lady birds (aka chickens) in the barn for the winter. Having checked out a few friends setups I settled down with Ashley English’s Keeping Chickens: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock and planned my attack. It was her book’s blueprint for nesting boxes I followed the first time around, but this being a different layout I needed to adjust for space issues. More on that project in a future post (I still have to build it!). p.s. Can you believe I’ve started preparing for winter! A couple weeks ago I even began dragging out my fall/winter wardrobe!
Back to matters at hand…after I got home, did chores (mowing, taking in the hose for the winter, mopping of the kitchen floor, checking for eggs…) I opened up another of Ashley English’s books – this her brand new one A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies. Oh, readers this is a good one! It has 60 recipes for pies, pies, pies. Rosemary Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie (oh dear Lord this is so going to happen), Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pumpkin Seeds (heck yes!) and Chocolate, Coffee, and Orange Marmalade Tart (give me a Hallelujah). See, I like pie a lot – especially when you go adding things like bourbon and chocolate to it.
Since I’ve got all these perfect pie making apples in brown bags taking up cabinet space I figured probably best to start with an apple pie. Ashley’s Chai Spice Apple Pie recipe was a no brainer, consider my love (need?) of chai tea lattes on a daily basis. A mug of a homemade version is something you could set the clocks by in my house – in other words a daily ritual most often after breakfast, but now that the sun is setting so much earlier (it’s dark by 6:30) I wait till dark to treat myself.
Enjoy this pie in the morning or evening with or as a meal. No judging here dear readers. xo
Chai Spice Apple Pie from Ashley English’s A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies
1 Basic Pie Dough (Ashley provides a recipe, but any should do) for 9-inch pie pan.
Chai Spice Blend: 1 tsp cardamom seeds or ground cardamom, 1/2 tsp black tea, 1/4 tsp whole cloves, 1/4 tsp black peppercorns, 1/4 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger.
Filling: 3 pounds apples (variety)
Egg Wash: 1 large egg yolk, 1 Tbsp whole milk
Topping: 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar or other course sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
Prepare the Crust – Remove one dough disk from the refrigerator. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the crust overhang to 1 inch, then place the crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Prepare the Chai Spice Blend – Using either a mortar and pestle or a spice or coffee grinder, grind the cardamom seeds (if using), black tea, whole cloves, peppercorns, and fennel seeds to a powder. Pour the ground spices into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a small bowl. Gently shake the sieve so all but the larger pieces fall through. Discard the larger pieces left in the sieve. To the freshly ground spices in the bowl, add the ground cardamom (if using), cinnamon, and ginger. Whisk well to continue.
Prepare the Filling – Combine all of the filling ingredients, including the chai spice blend, in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using either clean hands or a large spoon, toss until all of the ingredients are fully combined and the apple slices are evenly coated.
Assemble the Pie – Pour the apple mixture into the prepared crust, mounding in the center. Dot the surface with the diced butter. Roll the remaining dough disk into a 12-inch circle. Use a small pastry cutter to cut decorative images in the dough. (Ashley likes to use a leaf-shaped, autumn-theme cutter, but any design will work equally well.) Roll the top crust loosely over your rolling pin and unroll it over the filling in the pie pan, making sure it’s centered. Trim the top crust overhang to 1 inch and tuck the edges under the bottom crust overhang. Crimp the edges decoratively. Whisk the egg yolk and milk in a small bowl, then use a pastry brush to brush the wash over the crust.
Place the pie in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425. Mix the coarse sugar and ground cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the pie. Place the pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil ** to catch overflow juices and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 and continue baking for 30 to 35 minutes longer, until the crust is golden and juices are bubbling in the center of the pie.
Cool at least 1 hour before serving.
*For a pear version Ashley suggests swapping an equal amount of pears for the apples.
**I use a Silpat nonstick baking sheet when baking instead of aluminum foil or parchment paper as I can reuse time and again thus making it more eco-friendly. You can find in baking stores and online.
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Monday, October 1st, 2012
Tis apple pie making season what with all the lovely apples from my share of the Out on a Limb Heritage Apple CSA. I’ve been a shareholder since 2010 (its sophomore season). I get approximately 1/4 bushel of historic and unusual modern varieties of Maine grown dessert (fresh-eating) and culinary apples at each pickup (about 10-12 lbs). Overall I’ll get 30 – 40 varieties during the course of the season. Some varieties will be organically grown, others IPM (integrated pest management) or conventionally grown. The CSA costs $125 for the season
What I used to make this pie:
Uncertain origin, 17th century or earlier. The most famous of all pie apples, also good for dessert and sauce. There are numerous strains including this deep purple-red strain found in old orchards in southern Maine. No one knows the origin of the apple. Although most experts say Italy or Germany, it is possible that the apple comes from Russia. Interestingly, Gravenstein was brought to North America from two directions. Europeans brought it to Canada and Maine, while Russians brought it to the West Coast. It is still grown commercially in both Nova Scotia and California. Old trees can still be found here and there in Maine, especially in mid-coast and southern districts.
Duchess of Oldenburg
Originated in Russia, 17th c. In 1835 the Massachusetts Horticultural Society imported the first of many apple varieties from Russia. These were Alexander, Tetofsky, Red Astrichan and Duchess of Oldenburg. Duchess was planted extensively wherever growers needed varieties with extreme cold hardiness, and it is still popular today in most of northern New England, especially Aroostook County. Highly esteemed for all sorts of cooking, Duchess is an excellent pie apple. It makes a zesty pie, and it cooks up quickly into thick, creamy, delicious sauce.
(Descriptions from OLHA CSA site. Photo mine. *Check out this New York Times piece on the Common Ground Country Fair featuring John’s thoughts on farming, mentoring and apples.)
Arkansas Sweetly Spiced Apple Crumb Pie from the Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe by Alisa Huntsman.
9-inch pie shell, unbaked
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
6 cups 1/2-inch-thick sliced peeled apples (any baking variety)
Brown Sugar and Oat Crumb Topping (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350. Place the pie shell on a sturdy baking sheet and set aside. In a large bowl, rub the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves together with your fingertips until blended. Add the apples and toss to coat. Dump the spiced apple slices into the pie shell, including any sugar and juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the pie, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border uncovered. (The topping will cover the entire pie. If you put the crumbs close to the edges, they may run out with any juices that boil over, leaving no topping near the edges.) Bake in the middle of the over for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling and the crumb topping is lightly browned all over. Let cool before cutting, although this is the hardest part, because who can resist warm apple pie?
Brown Sugar and Oat Crumb Topping (makes about 1 cup)
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Place the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and baking soda in a bowl and mix gently to break up any lumps of sugar, taking care not to crush the oats. Add the butter and gently rub the ingredients together with your fingertips to produce a mealy mixture with some lumps that clump together when squeezed in your hand.
Yield: one 9-inch pie; serves 6 to 8
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