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Archive for the ‘Sugar ‘n Spice’ Category

Here’s a dessert I really enjoy and is simple to make.  While this site usually advocates using produce in season, here’s a recipe that is fairly forgiving if the strawberries are not at their peak – though of course, in season tastes better and costs less.  Also remember to clean your strawberries well as they are listed among the fruits with the highest levels of residual pesticides.  Beginners: slice off and discard the tops.

This is recipe is a mild variation on another web recipe but this time the changes are few but significant.  The original recipe calls for ¾ cup of vegetable oil.  Here I cut the oil in half and compensate by increasing the amount of strawberries.  Strawberries when they bake give off a lot of water so do not be concerned that your batter will be barely moistened when you add in the strawberries.  A note for dieters – even with cutting the oil in half, the entire recipe is about 2700 calories – which per serving (no matter how small you serve) is not slimming.IMG_0318

The other change is that I use an 8×8 pan rather than a loaf pan.  The best parts of this recipe are the top and the sides (the rest is very good too).  Also cooking in a flatter pan also reduces baking time and you do not get that gooey middle that sometimes forms when oil based breads take a few days to eat.  If you want, a 7×11 pan should work well too.  I find that many dessert breads turn out better in an 8×8 pan than a loaf pan.

Oatmeal Strawberry Bread – 1 Rolling pin

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup oats (I have not tried the quick variety)
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • ½ tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound strawberries roughly chopped (about 3/8 “ dice +/-)

Cook:IMG_0314-2

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8×8 glass pan.
  • Stir together in a large bowl: flour, outs, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt
  • In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil and the eggs until well mixed
  • Stir the oil-egg mixture into the dry ingredients until all the dry ingredients are moist
  • Fold (stir) in the strawberries
  • Place batter in the pan, spreading it out evenly
  • Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 – 60 minutes (check out 45 minutes if using a 7×11 pan).
  • Cool on a wire rack.

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I really wanted to crank this post out before the fresh citrus disappears from grocery store shelves.  There is nothing like in season citrus to make any recipe sing.  These scones are nice and tasty and go well with tea, coffee, or are a great anytime snack.  I made them a while back for a tea party and they were a huge hit – especially when paired with clotted cream.

When these were made I used an electric mixer, however you can mix these by hand, it will just take some elbow grease.  Otherwise as scones go this is a fairly basic recipe.  It does take some time and work but like most recipes is worth it in the end – especially when you are looking for a vehicle for clotted cream.

If you need a use for the remainder of the orange I highly recommend the beet and orange salad on this site.  Or just eat the orange as-is, up to you.

 

Orange Cranberry Scones – 2 Rolling Pins (Adapted from Food.com)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour (also have additional to flour for shaping the scones)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (from one medium-large orange)
  • 3 sticks cold unsalted butter (very important that it’s cold)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup flour (this is additional to coat the cranberries)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash the outside of the orange to remove any possible pesticides and wax and dry it.  Using a grater, zest the peel of the orange.  You only want the orange parts, not the white pith.
  3. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the zest.
  4. In a bowl whisk the eggs so they are well beaten and set aside.
  5. Measure the cup of cranberries and ¼ cup of flour into a bowl and mix gently to coat the berries.
  6. Right before you are ready to start mixing everything, cut the butter into a dice.  Taking one stick out of the fridge at a time, cut it lengthwise into three long pieces, turn on its side and cut into three pieces, then cut down the length to make small pieces.  Set these aside.

Bake:

  1. In a large bowl stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest together.
  2. Add the butter to the bowl and mix at a low speed (or gentlyly if by hand) until the butter is the size of peas.  This means the butter will not be fully incorporated into the flour mixture, but only partially.
  3. Add the heavy cream to the eggs and mix the two together.
  4. Gradually add the cream and egg mixture to the flour and butter, mixing on low speed.
  5. Add to the dough the floured cranberries and mix until just combined.  At this point the dough should look lumpy, and you will still see pieces of butter throughout.
  6. Flour a clean countertop or cutting board and place the dough on it.  Gently knead the dough into a ball.
  7. Take a floured rolling pin and roll the dough so it’s about ¾ of an inch thick.
  8. Use a floured cookie cutter or biscuit cutter (about 3 inches) to cut out the scones.  If you don’t have a formal cutter you can flour the top of a cup and use that to shape the scones.  Any dough scraps should be combined and re-rolled to cut more scones.
  9. Place the scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet about an inch or so apart and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Allow the scones to cool, serve and enjoy!

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I love cowboy cookies, mainly because they have chocolate, raisins, nuts and oats.  It’s like a kitchen sink cookie without any super wacky additives.  Of course if you don’t like raisins or are allergic to nuts those items are easy to leave out.  For instance with the batch I just made I left out the walnuts, but that was because I didn’t feel like chopping them up.  Now as to the oats… not optional.

I like to make sure cookies such as these last me for the week, so I make sure to store them in a sealed container.  A cookie jar/tin, plastic container or plastic storage bag (like ziplock) all work well.  The key is to keep the cookies fresh.

Cowboy Cookies – ½ Rolling Pin

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Bake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl cream together the butter, sugar and brown sugar.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and stir to thoroughly combine.
  4. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and stir to mix well.
  6. Add the oats to the batter and stir until incorporated.
  7. Add in chocolate chips, raisins and walnuts and stir until mixed.
  8. Using a large spoon or tablespoon measure out a little more than a tablespoon of dough and place on a baking sheet a few inches apart.
  9. Bake for about 12 minutes.
  10. Remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack or plate to cool down.  If you have more dough repeat steps 8 and 9 until you have baked (or snacked on) all of your dough.
  11. Allow cookies to cool and enjoy!

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The last cookie in the Christmas Cookies series is a classic.  Gingerbread men/ladies/people (depending on how you feel about these things) are a staple of the Christmas season.  They’re spicy, sweet and a nice relief from super sweet sugar cookies.

You can cut these cookies into just about any shape.  I make gingerbread snowmen since that’s the cookie cutter I have, but you could make them look like anything.

Unlike previous recipes, this recipe comes with two prep sections, as there is the creation of the dough, and then the rolling and cutting of the cookies.

Gingerbread Cookies – 1½ Knives  (Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter (¾ stick)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup molasses

Prep:

  1. A few hours before you want to start baking the cookies cut 6 tablespoons of butter from a stick and place on a plate to sit out to reach room temperature.

Cook:

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, giner, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  2. In another bowl mix together the butter and brown sugar.  You can use a mixer for this or you can stir by hand.
  3. Add to the butter and brown sugar the egg and molasses.
  4. Slowly add flour mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients.  Add the flour gradually, adding about ¼ of the flour at a time and incorporating it into the dough before adding more flour.  Mix dough until it’s just combined, being sure not to over mix.
  5. Divide the dough in half and form into disks.  Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least two hours.

Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º Fahrenheit
  2. Place parchment paper down to cover the counter or tabletop and lightly dust flour to cover the work surface.
  3. Place dough disk on the parchment paper and roll until 1/8 inch think.  If the dough sticks to the rolling pin you can flour it as needed, but be sure not to use a lot.  Repeat this step and step 2 with the second half of the dough.
  4. Lift the dough on the paper onto two baking sheets and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Cook:

  1. Remove the dough from the baking sheets.
  2. Cut out shapes using your favorite cookie cutters.  Be sure to brush any extra flour off of the cookies.
  3. Place cookies on the cookie sheets about an inch apart.
  4. Any dough scraps you can briefly freeze and re-roll to cut more cookies or snack on (though be cautious as the eggs are raw and salmonella is no fun).
  5. If you want a softer cookie bake them for 8-10 minutes.  If you want crunchier cookies bake them for 10-12.  I personally prefer to let them go somewhere in between at about the 10 minute mark.
  6. When cookies are done baking carefully transfer them to a wire rack or plate to cool.
  7. Decorate the cookies however you like.  Food Network has a simple Royal Icing recipe.  I like to keep it simple and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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The next installment in the Christmas Cookies series is a bit of an experiment.  I love chocolate chocolate-chip cookies, but I also liked the idea of using smashed up candy canes in cookies.  And thus, this recipe was born.

The best part of this recipe is the few seconds where you get to smash up the candy canes.  They sell pre-broken up peppermint pieces at the grocery store, but where is the fun there?  The smashing is good for the mental health, and kids will love taking a swing at the canes.  So have a smashing good time with these!

Double Chocolate and Candy Cane Cookies – ½ Rolling Pin (Cookie dough recipe adapted from allrecipes)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1½ cups white sugar (you can substitute half of the sugar for brown sugar if you want)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4-6 smashed candy canes to taste(about ¼-1/3 cup)

Prep:

  1. A few hours prior to baking take two sticks of the butter out to soften.
  2. Unwrap candy canes and place in a quart-size Ziploc bag.
  3. Smash candy canes with a rolling pin or other blunt kitchen tool until crushed into small pieces.  I personally like to use the flat side of my meat mallet.
  4. Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

Cook:

  1. In a large bowl mix together butter and sugar until creamy.
  2. Add in eggs and vanilla extract and stir until well mixed.
  3. Add in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and stir until a dark brown dough forms without white flour showing.
  4. Add in chocolate chips and candy canes pieces and stir until mixed in evenly.
  5. Drop rounded teaspoons of dough a few inches apart on a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool.   If you don’t have a cooling rack a plate or platter works well.  Just get them off of that hot cookie sheet pronto.

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As we get closer to Christmas I will be featuring cookie recipes for the holiday.  To kick things off I’m starting with Cherry and Almond Biscotti.  These are great to dunk in coffee or eat alone.

They are also easier to make then you would think, but still involve quite a few steps with the dough.  As baking goes I’m rating this 2 rolling pins, since the rolling and forming, and then cutting and re-baking is a bit more work than your average cookie.  It’s not quite up to 3 as it’s not as technical or frustrating as other recipes.  Sadly yes, baking does come on a warped scale.

The recipe does leave room for added fun, specifically drizzling chocolate over them.  I prefer to melt down some semi-sweet and drizzle it over the top, but it’s not necessary for a great biscotti.

 

Cherry and Almond Biscotti – 2 Rolling Pins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • Additional flour for dough handling
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup dried cherries

Prep:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread almonds out on a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes until they have browned.  This means they are brown-er, also they should be fragrant.  When in doubt go for less time since if they toast for too long they could burn.
  3. Once the almonds have cooled chop them coarsely and set aside.

Cook:

  1. Reduce oven temperature to 300º Fahrenheit.
  2. In a bowl beat the eggs with the vanilla and almond extract.  Set this bowl aside.
  3. In a larger bowl combine together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Stir until well mixed.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the larger bowl and stir the contents until a dough forms.  If you have a mixer you can use that instead of hand-stirring.
  5. Lastly fold in the almonds and dried cherries.  Folding is simply a fancy-pants way of saying very gently stir in.  You want to be gentle so you don’t toughen up or in any way change the consistency of the dough.
  6. Use flour to coat your hands and a clean flat surface.
  7. Divide the dough into two even clumps.
  8. On the floured surface gently roll the each clump of dough into a log shape about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide.
  9. Place the logs on your baking sheet and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
  10. Take out and let cool for about 10 minutes.
  11. On a cutting board cut the logs into ½ inch slices along the diagonal.
  12. Place the slices back on the baking sheet flat-side down.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  14. Remove from the oven, let cool, and enjoy!

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Every Sunday night my friend Ben hosts a potluck dinner for our group of friends.  It’s a great way to kick back and enjoy new food.  Each week has a theme: “Japanese Curry,” “Crepes,”  “Russian Food,” etc. These potlucks give me a chance to experiment with foods and cultures I wouldn’t ordinarily cook.  As I explore different foods, or sometimes go into my own recipe archives I will share them here so we can explore together.

This Sunday is “Red, Green and Ham” themed.  I decided to bring two dishes: the spinach-artichoke dip recipe from yesterday and bread pudding.  I have a rock-hard, couldn’t-get-more-stale-if-it-tried loaf of French bread that must go so bread pudding it is!  This recipe is in the “New Orleans” style and has lots of great flavors, and goes well with the WWOZ FM New Orleans Jazz Radio I have playing in the background.  So on to the cooking!

Bread Pudding – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf stale French bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (half a stick)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup Sweet Bourbon or Rum (or vanilla extract)

Prep

  1. Take the raisins and place them in a bowl with the Bourbon or Rum and let soak for one hour.  Stir halfway through to make sure all of the raisins are coated.  After an hour remove raisins from the liquid and discard the liquid.
  2. Cut the loaf of bread into 1 inch pieces.

Cook

  1. Preheat your oven to 350º Fahrenheit
  2. In a large mixing bowl add sugar and melted butter.  Mix in eggs and milk until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and raisins to mixture and stir until incorporated.
  4. Add bread to the mixture and stir so that all of the bread is coated.  Let the mixtures sit for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the liquid.
  5. Transfer the bread mixture into a 9×13 inch pan or 2 quart casserole.
  6. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes to an hour.
  7. Let pudding cool before serving and enjoy!

Now things don’t always go right in the kitchen.  In my case I only had ½ cup of sugar and my loaf was closer to half a loaf when I cut it up – and of course I had already melted the full amount of butter and was soaking a full load of raisins.  My bread was also so rock hard (really, really stale) that I soaked for 30 minutes to let the crust soften  a tad.  I do LOVE the flavors used in this recipe though, so I did not hold back on the spices.  My revised experiment in bread pudding in the end was:

  • 1 loaf stale French bread (the small baguette from Whole Foods)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cups brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (half a stick)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup Wild Turkey American Honey

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