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Friday, December 31, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits

Just say "NO" to the Pop In Fresh Boy.  Fresh biscuits from scratch in less than 30 minutes with little clean up...what could be better?

use a pastry cutter 
mixture needs to stay cool
do not over mix
mix until it resembles a coarse corn meal

improvise when necessary
all of my round cutters are for doughnuts so I employed this little cup to cut


Buttermilk Biscuits
from Maria Helm Sinskey's
The Vineyard Kitchen

2 cups all purpose flour
1T sugar
1T baking powder
8T (one stick) unsalted butter cut into chunks
1 cup buttermilk
2T unsalted butter melted

~ place one oven rack on top rung and one on bottom rung
~ preheat oven 450
~ line baking sheet with parchment paper
~ whisk to combined dry ingredients in mixing bowl
~ add cold butter and cut into dry ingredients with pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal
~ add buttermilk and bring dough together (do not over mix)
~ turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead a couple times
~ pat dough into 1 inch thick round
~ cut with 2 inch round cutter
~ transfer biscuits to baking sheet 1 1/2 inch apart
~ bush tops with melted butter
~ bake on top rack 8-10 minutes turning pan once midway (watch tops for browning)
~ place sheet on bottom rack for 2-3 minutes to slightly brown bottoms

Butternut Squash Soup with Creme Fraiche

Cold weather equals soup on the kettle in our house.  I do not know why I have this obsession with butternut squash soup, but here we go again...Last minute Larry here did not realize the homemade creme fraiche needs to be made a day in advance so we did without.  Sweet, smooth, creamy and easy describes this soup.

roasted in my toaster oven

cool remove seeds and skin

my massive sage plant that started as a tiny Home Depot twig

prior to blending

Butternut Squash Soup
with Creme Fraiche 
from Maria Helm Sinkskey's
The Vineyard Kitchen

1 butternut squash (mine was about 5 pounds)
1 medium sweet onion
1T olive oil
1T raw honey
6 fresh sage leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups organic chicken stock
1 cup creme fraiche (recipe follows)(make a day in advance)

~ preheat oven 400
~ prick squash with fork
~ place whole on a baking sheet 
~ roast until softened about 45 minutes
~ cool, cut in half, remove seeds 
~ cut into 2 inch slices and remove skin
~ cut slices into cubes
~  peel, trim and coarsely chop onion, reserve 
~ heat pan medium heat
~ add olive oil heat
~ add onion and saute until translucent and begins to brown
~ add honey and cook until it begins to bubble
~ add squash cubes and sage
~ season with salt and pepper
~ add chicken broth
~ add water to cover squash by 1 inch (4 cups for me)
~ bring to a boil and lower heat to simmer
~ cook 45 minutes to 1 hour until squash and onion are very tender
~ cool 15 minutes
~ puree with an immersion blender (the cookbook directs the use of a blender...don't do it .  Hot liquid and blenders do not mix well.  Invest in an immersion blender.  They are not costly and so much fun)
~ season with salt and freshly ground pepper
~ ladle with a dollop of creme fraiche (about 1T per bowl)

Creme Fraiche

1 cups heavy cream
2T buttermilk

~ combined cream and buttermilk in a very clean glass bowl
~ cover with cheese cloth secured by a rubber band or a piece of plastic wrap that has been perforated with a toothpick twenty times or more
~ let the mixture sit at room temperature overnight or for up to 2 days
~ mild - refrigerate after one night
~ tangy - leave out 2 nights
~ transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What Is On The Menu For The New Year

Happy New Year

Too many failures for me to continue Sacramental Magic in a Small-Town Cafe.  I just don't jive with Br. Peter Reinhart.  I did make the vegetable soup and it was ok; however the lemon muffins bleech, heavy, bad, bad, bad.

New Books - New Year

The Vineyard Kitchen Menus Inspired by Seasons by Maria Helm Sinskey

Winter Menu
papardelle with mushrooms pg 118
chocolate shortbread with vanilla cream filling pg 121
roasted beet and tangelo salad with spicy greens pg 143
tangelo sherry vinaigrette pg 144 good
braised lamb shanks with white beans and aromatic vegetables pg 145
lemon buttermilk pound cake with lemon glaze pg 147 kids loved
red wine-braised short ribs with roasted root vegetables pg 152
parsnip soup with crispy parsnip chips pg 168
meyer lemon  meringue tart pg 193

Fall Menu
wild mushroom risotto pg 20 good
nana' tomato sauce with potato gnocchi pg 28
nut brittle pg 35
pumpkin tortellini with sage brown butter pg 51
fried cod pg 60  12/30 good very ordinary...great the next day
lemon risotto pg 62
butternut squash soup pg 74  12/30 nice sweet
buttermilk biscuits  12/30  very good and easy
oven roasted potatoes and shallots pg 70
caramelized apple galette pg 80
sage roasted chicken with sweet potatoes and cipollini onions pg 96
apple spice cake pg 98

The Italian Baker
by Carol Field 

Como Bread pg 102
Dark Tuscan Bread pg 112
Bread of Puglia pg 122
Sicilian Bread pg 124 a favorite!
Whole Wheat Brad pg 128
Rye Bread from Bolzano pg 132
Sweet Pepper Bread pg 158
Breadsticks from Turin pg 263 great!
Sage Bradsticks from Como pg 267
Focaccia from Genoa pg 288

Bruce's Bakery Cookbook

by Bruce Zipes

Carrot Cake pg 56
Chocolate Filled Icebox Cookies pg 84
Old Fashion Lemon Bars pg 96  yeech

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thin Crisp Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Magically disappearing cookies, just see for yourself.  Bake them.  Turn your back and suddenly "poof" they are gone.  I ask my three mice, "Did you just eat the tray of cookies?".  "No","no" and "no" they quip.  Must have been our friendly ghost Fred.

"Mom the lady who talks like a cowgirl ate raw eggs on her cooking show.  I thought you told us not to eat raw eggs.."   I assume she is referring to Paula Dean.  Don't you love the world through a child's eyes and yes I told them not raw cookie dough.  Amazing that all of us survived years of raw cookie dough.

 mix until just combined

add chips and refrigerate

bake and they will disappear

Thin, Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies
from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition
by Cook's Illustrated Magazine

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) unbleached all purpose flour
3/4t baking soda
1/4t Himalayan pink salt
8T (one stick) unsalted butter melted and cooled
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed  (2 1/3 oz) light brown sugar
2T light corn syrup (before measuring add a little oil to your teaspoon and syrup will just drop right off)
1 large egg yolk
2T half and half
1T vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips

~ whisk flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl until combined
~ mix melted butter , both sugars and corn syrup at low speed until thoroughly blended about 1 minute
~ add yolk, milk and vanilla mix until fully incorporated and smooth, about 1 minute
~ scrap sides of bowl as needed
~ with mixture running at low speed add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined 
~ add chocolate chips and mix on low speed until evenly distributed 5 seconds
~ refrigerate 4 or more hours
~ preheat oven 375 set rack middle
~ line baking sheets with parchment paper
~ scoop out a ball about 1 1/4" and place on prepared sheets about  2" apart 
~ bake until golden 9-12 minutes
~ cool on baking sheet 4 minutes
~ cookies my appear puffy but will flatten as they cool

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cheese Fondue

"Fondue, fondue I want fondue for my birthday dinner", cries my youngest.  How did this happen?  Every birthday dinner is now fondue and jousting fondue forks.  

It just so happens, I recently purchased Marianne Haltenbach's Cooking in Switzerland.  Gingham fabric covers this unique book and the previous owner has commented on many of the recipes.  For example,  Strubli, "This really tastes great!", Wine Toast, "heavenly..." and this one threw me off for a moment...Kid Ragout, "Good for company" until I made the connection of goat and kid.  My favorite cookbooks contain comments and adjustments made by previous owners.

Perfect crispy skinned roasted potatoes: preheat oven 400- wash and dry potatoes - place in clean plastic bag (from produce section of grocery store), add enough oil (a tablespoon or two) to coat and sprinkle with garlic powder and shake, shake , shake and bake.  I use my toaster oven.

Grated cheese
My fondue pot is enameled cast iron.



Happy Birthday!

Cheese Fondue
from Marianne Haltenbach's Cooking in Switzerland

items to dip: bread, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, bread, potato, apple, pears...
12oz grated Gruyere cheese
12oz grated Emmentaler cheese
1 garlic clove
1 1/3 cup dry white wine
3t cornstarch
2T kirsch or vodka
freshly ground pepper
freshly ground nutmeg

~ prepare dipping items first
~ rub heavy saucepan or like me use fondue pot with the split garlic clove
~ dissolved the cornstarch in the kirsch or vodka
~ put the cheese and wine into the pan and very slowly bring to a boil STIR CONSTANTLY
~ it will take a very very very long time - the cheese will melt, clump and melt - just keep stirring
~ when the cheese is completely melted add the cornstarch mixture and stir vigourously
~ continue to cook
~ season with pepper and nutmeg to taste
~ place mixture into fondue pot or if cooked in fondue pot place on a heated burner set to low heat

Here is the link for the book on amazon...

Pressure Cooker Chicken Biryani

Ah-ha, time is ticking away and dinner needs to be made.  Pressure-cooker plus Indian spices...winner winner chicken dinner (my oldest current favorite phrase).  

 Freshly picked peppers from our garden

The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook 3rd Edition: Cookware Rating Edition
Rating so-so, we had such high hopes since the recipe was from American's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  The spices did not sing.  The rice lacked fluff.  I did not use so much saffron due to the cost.  I used a more affordable 1/8t.  I think the taste would improve with cardamom pods used in the pressure cooking stage.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Biryani
from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Yogurt Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
2T minced fresh ciantro
2T minced fresh mint
1 garlic clove minced
salt and pepper

~ stir all ingredient together
~ season with salt and pepper
~ refrigerate until needed

4 large boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
3T safflower oil
1T earth balance margarine
1 large sweet onion halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
6 garlic cloves sliced thin
2 jalapeno chilies, stemmed seeded and minced
1T cumin
2T grated fresh ginger
1 cup water
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups basmati rice
1/4 cup raisins
2 cinnamon sticks
2T minced fresh ciantro
1/2t saffron threads crumbled
1/2 t cardamon

~ season chicken with salt and pepper
~ heat 2t oil in pressure cooker medium high until just smoking and brown chicken on both sides, 3 minutes
~ transfer to a clean plate
~ add remaining oil and the margarine medium high heat until margarine has melted
~ add onion and cook until soft and browned on edges
~ stir in garlic, jalapenos, cumin and 1T ginger cook 30 seconds
~ stir in water scrapping up any brown bits
~ stir in broth, rice, raisins, and cinnamon sticks
~ place chicken on top of rice so it is partially submerged
~ lock the top in place 
~ bring to high pressure over high heat cook for only 4 minutes, adjust temperature to maintain pressure
~ remove pressure cooker from heat
~ allow the pressure to naturally release for 8 minutes
~ use quick release to release remaining pressure
~ remove lid
~ remove chicken and tents with foil
~ stir in cilantro, saffron, cardamom, and remaining ginger into the rice and season with salt and pepper
~ replace the lid, do not lock
~ slice chicken
~ discard cinnamon sticks
~ transfer rice to serving dish and arrange chicken over rice
~ serve yogurt sauce separately 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Golden Sesame Bread

Such promise, they look great.  Four round loaves waiting for the steamed bbq.

First rise


Drats!  Another Peter Reinhart failure!  I have some sort of curse when it comes to his bread recipes.   This time while attempting to save our garden worms from pouring rain, the bread burned.  I thought when I opened it all would be fine; however, it was dense, yeech.  I am going to take a long Reinhart bread recipe break and focus on my more successful bread books: James Beard, Carol Field, Bernard Clayton...

I will continue to make his flat bread and cracker recipes because they are great.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kiwi Sorbet

Rain and Flooding...time for sorbet.  Kiwi, perfect acid with crunchy seeds great sorbet

Kiwi Sorbet
from Me

1 1/2 simple syrup see other sorbet recipes (from The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto)
6 kiwi's (enough for 1 cup)

~ make simple syrup and allow to cool
~ remove flesh and and grind in mini food processor until smooth
~ mix kiwi flesh and syrup
~ freeze according to manufactures instructions

a most fabulous book, I highly recommend it

Monday, December 20, 2010

Impromptu S'mores

Want s'mores but don't have a camp fire handy?  That is why broilers were invented.

~place graham crackers on baking sheet

~top with either chocolate chips or chocolate bar and broil for one minute until soft

~slather with marshmallow fluff or regular marshmallows

~broil for about 4 minutes or until browned

~remove from pan and fold in half

Curried Chicken Salad

Finally had time to fill the fridge, but I had little time to make dinner.  I really wanted to make the chili since it is the perfect rainy day meal.  Not a chance, so I opted for curried chicken salad. 

One out of three kids ate it and liked it.  Another only ate the roasted chicken and the other decided she was still full from the late lunch.  First question before the first bite, "What vegetables are in this?".  The salad was good.  I used meyer lemon which tends to be sweeter and less acidic then lemon sold in most grocery stores.   The recipe calls for raisins; however, I prefer and used dried cranberries.

I cooked the chicken pieces in a cast iron pot
great as a sandwich or salad

Curried Chicken Salad
from Sacramental Magic in a Small - Town Cafe
by Peter Reinhart

1 chicken cut into 8 pieces
1t freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup meyer lemon juice
2T curry powder
1 medium red onion diced
2 small organic granny smith apples finely chopped
1/3 cup organic dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2t sea salt
1t granulated garlic

~ if you have left over roasted chicken, great use it otherwise, pepper and  roast chicken pieces in cast iron pot covered 425 for about 35 minutes.  Internal temp should register 180 in thickest area.  I removed the skin from breast, thighs and legs before roasting.
~ while chicken cooks
~ squeeze 1/2 cup juice from lemons and whisk with mayonnaise
~ add curry powder and whisk
~ add onion, apple, dried cranberries, and celery
~ when chicken has cooled enough to handle shred and add
~ season with salt, garlic and additional pepper if needed
~ serve on a bed of lettuce or toasted bread

What Is On The Menu For The Next Few Weeks End of December

Vacation time, yeah!  A time to sleep in and enjoy.  Today the weather is fabulous: rainy with gusty wind...fresh cool air.  I recently acquired  Sacramental Magic in a Small - Town Cafe.  My third Peter Reinhart book.  The recipes look perfect for a relaxing vacation with my kitchen assistants.  I added Amazon links, if you are interested.  This book used is only a penny!  plus shipping and new $9.98.

Sacramental Magic In A Small-town Cafe: Recipes And Stories From Brother Juniper's Cafe
Sacramental Magic in a Small-Town Cafe
by Br. Peter Reinhart

page   recipe

22  Greek Salad
36  Caesar Salad
41  Tabbouleh
45  Hummus
49  Baba Ghanouj
57  Raspberry Vinaigrette
59  Bread Salad
92  Neo - Texas Chili
117 Susan's Vegetable Soup
121 Cream of Broccoli Soup
150 Pasta Puttanesca
152 Pasta Susan Wild Mushroom, Pan Fried Garlic and Wine Sauce
155 Pasta with Chevre and Sun Dried Tomatoes
169 Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich
171 Roasted Garlic and Grilled Vegetable Sandwich
183 Ginger Fizz Syrup
197 Grain of Mustard Seed Bread
201 Golden Sesame Bread
202 Pumpkin Spice Bread
203 Orange Cranberry Bread
210 Lemon Walnut Muffins
218 The World's Greatest Brownies

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Borscht Beets

I really like the earthy taste of beets.  This recipe I found overwhelming acidic.  Perhaps you might enjoy this lusty astringent dish.

Borscht Beet
from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home

2 pounds beets scrubbed tops removed
1 1/2 kosher salt
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1t sugar
1t caraway seeds
1/2 small red onion sliced paper thin
1 cup low fat yogurt
1T chopped fresh dill
additional salt and freshly ground pepper

~ place beets in large sauce pan and add enough cold water to cover
~ add 1t salt and bring to boil over high heat
~ reduce heat to medium high and simmer until tender 45-50 minutes
~ while beets cook combined 1/2t salt , vinegar, sugar and caraway seeds with the onion in a small saucepan and bring to a boil and remove from heat
~ remove the beets from the water and set aside until cool enough to handle
~ peel, slice thin and toss with onion mixture and stir in yogurt and dill
~ season with salt and pepper

Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper and Gorgonzola

YUM!  I made these before our invasion and they were so truly scrumptious I plan on making them again soon.  The kids liked them too...once they picked off the bell pepper.  

Fresh herbs a garden staple, we grow thyme, several types of basil, marjoram, oregano, sage, stevia, dill, fennel, rosemary, cilantro, chives, salad burnett, and more I can not think of right now.  I highly recommend growing herbs.  Although we grow our herbs outside, they are easily grown indoors.


Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper and Gorgonzola 
from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home

4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed removed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves minced
1T fresh thyme chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more from brushing
2 small red bell peppers, organic if available
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
4 slices of rustic bread
1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise
5T shredded fresh basil

~ wipe mushroom caps and with a small spoon scrape out the gills
~ combined and whisk vinegar, garlic, thyme, and 1/4 cup olive oil
~ put mushrooms in shallow glass dish
~ pour vinegar mixture over mushrooms and let sit at room temperature for an hour
~ heat bbq
~ set pepper on grill turn as skin blackens
~ remove blackened peppers and place in glass bowl and cover with baking sheet until cool enough to handle
~ cut peppers into strips
~ remove mushrooms from marinate and season with salt and pepper
~ add about a tablespoon of marinate to mayonnaise 
~ place mushrooms cap side up on bbq until darken and slightly soften 2 to 3 minutes
~ turn grill for another 2 to 3 minutes
~ when mushroom are just about tender place cheese into the cavity of each cap
~ brush bread with olive oil and place on the bbq until slightly toasted turning often
~ assemble slather mayonnaise on bread, place mushroom atop, place red pepper strips and shredded basil on mushroom 

Our broccoli is almost ready to pick.

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