Saturday, July 21, 2012

Raspberry Muffins

I tossed together these delicious muffins tonight after dinner for a bit of dessert and so I can have some to grab for breakfast in the morning before leaving for church. I had a few handfuls of raspberries leftover from last weekend's Farmer's Market that really needed to be used up, as I just bought several more pint boxes of them at today's market.

I found these muffins absolutely perfect. Soft in the middle yet with a slight crunch to the crust. Not too sweet or syrupy, satisfying as a dessert but not so sweet that you feel guilty eating them for breakfast (like I tend to feel after eating leftover brownies for breakfast.) These also have a pleasantly lemony taste, thanks to the lemon zest and juice. It is not a overpowering lemon flavor, just enough to compliment the raspberries. However if you are not a lemon lover or happen to not have a lemon in the refrigerator, feel free to leave it out.

Note: I just recently became a consultant for the Demarle At Home products and I am developing and testing my recipes to suit these fun baking forms. If you have the Straight Muffin Tray that I used for this recipe, then great, use it! If not, not to worry, a conventional metal muffin pan works just fine too. And, suppose you'd like to learn more about the Demarle At Home products or even buy some for yourself? Well, then I could help you with that.

So, here is the recipe. Enjoy!

Makes 12 muffins (I made only 8 muffins since I overfilled my cups to make large muffins)

 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
zest of 1 whole lemon
juice of 1/2 of lemon, about 2 Tbsp
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup raspberries, lightly crushed

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour muffin cups, or use paper liners. ***If using a Demarle At Home muffin tray, there is no need to grease or flour the cups, or even use liners.***

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg until pale and frothy. Add the vanilla, sugar, zest and juice and whisk vigorously until thick and well combined. Slowly, whisk in the melted butter. Then add the buttermilk and whisk until just combined.

Fold the egg mixture into flour until nearly combined. Add the raspberries and give it a few stirs. Batter will be very thick.

Spoon into muffin cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean, or with a few dry crumbs attached. I popped these muffins out of the Demarle At Home muffin tray as soon as the tray cooled (5min) but you can leave these in the muffin tin for up to 20 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Strawberry scones

Scones, again. Same formula as for my other scone recipes on here, but this time baked with some fresh Oregon Strawberries thrown in. Enjoy!

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 cup diced strawberries

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl. Toss in strawberries. Pour in cream and mix with wooden spoon. Batter will be very thick and may not look mixed. That's okay.

Turn out onto floured surface, knead a few turns, just until the dough holds together and is cohesive. With strawberries in the dough, it will be very sticky and messy. Use a bench scraper and extra flour for dusting if needed.

Pat dough with your hands into a round shape about an inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges, place on cookie sheet.

Bake 22 minutes.

Note: I found that I had to bake these scones longer than I do for plain scones. It is because of the extra moisture from the berries. I would check them after 20. You want the scones to be light golden in color and not gooey in the middle. Crack open one if you need to and check the middle. Keep baking until done and be sure to note how long they took so you will know for next time.

Also, these are not super sweet. If you prefer a sweeter scone, almost dessert like, add more sugar up to 1/2 cup.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New recipes coming soon!

I just jumped on here and realized that I haven't had a post since October! Yikes! Sorry about that. I'm sure you all know how it goes... Thanksgiving, then Christmas, the kids home on holiday, etc.

I did a whole bunch of baking this Christmas of some new recipes. They all came out very well and I've decided to share the recipes here in the next few weeks. Something to look forward to, so check back soon!

In the meantime, check out the button to the right. One of my recipes was featured on Rose's blog, Random Creative. She put together some of her favorite bookmarked recipes from 2011, and apparently she really likes my Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Scones. So nice to be featured, thank you Ms. Rose!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last night, I decided to toss together some pumpkin cookies. I have made them in the past but I am not sure just what recipe I had used before because I couldn't seem to find one amongst my books. So I did the usual internet search on the look out for something that looked promising. Now, the thing about a pumpkin cookie is that it is more of a mini cake than a cookie. Depending on the recipe, they can come out of the oven like a smooth muffin top, a lonely whoopie pie half or a misshapen glob of bread. They are usually pretty moist and tender. And most of the time they are yummy, even if they are not very cookie-like.

I found this recipe that was a bit different than all the others. The lady that posted the recipe noted that her in-a-rush-accident of forgetting to to cream the butter and sugar together yielded more of a chewy cookie than the typical cake-like contributions of the pumpkin cookie sphere. I was a bit skeptical, but the recipe looked essentially sound, so I gave it a try.

The results were tasty. On the chewy side, but still very bread-like if not quite cake-like. They did not rise very much, so in size they were just right for a cookie. I added some extra spices and reduced the amount of chocolate chips originally called for. Also, the original recipe called for the use of parchment paper lined baking sheets, but I found that this did not allow the bottoms to brown thus making my first batch too soft for my liking. For the second batch I did away with the parchment and this resulted a nice golden bottom that held the cookie together better.

Yeild: 40 two inch cookies

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Measure the flour, baking powder and all spices into a bowl. Use a wire whisk to stir it.

In a large bowl, beat the egg, then add the butter, sugar, pumpkin and vanilla. Beat until just blended together. With a wooden spoon, stir in the dry ingredients until just blended.

Add chocolate chips and fold in gently.

Use a 2 tablespoon scoop to drop cookies onto a baking sheet 1 inch apart. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until tops are starting to golden. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Roasting a Fresh Pumpkin

I was at Market (the local farmers market) last week buying my weekly supply of fresh produce. Being the first part of October, nearly every vendor had various sized and varieties of pumpkins for sale. I've been eying them for a few weeks now, but I hadn't bought any just yet. My two boys were having a lengthy conversation with one of our very favorite vendors while I was busy buying some much needed grass-fed beef. On the sly, the vendor bargained with my boys and ended up giving them EACH a huge Cinderella pumpkin (or "Rouge vif D'Etampes" if you want to be correct about it.)

I had just read recently that these pumpkins make an excellent eating pumpkin. Up until now, I've only known people to decorate with them since they are so very beautiful. However, there was no way that I could let all that free pumpkin go to waste so I decided to roast one up to have my own supply of pureed pumpkin for all my baking needs.

So, it went something like this:

With the pumpkin up on the counter, I used my large chefs knife and cut it in half. Using the tip of the knife, I sliced into it up by the stem at middle and continued cutting into it, down, until I had one side cut all the way through to the bottom. Then I swung the pumpkin around and did the same thing on the other side until I had two large halves. 

With a spoon, I scraped out all the seeds from the inside. The cut side down, I placed one half onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Then into the oven at 325° for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. The flesh needs to be very soft when poked with a fork. I repeated this process for the other half.

I neglected to weigh this but it was so large that I could only roast one half at a time. 

I let the pumpkin rest about 40 minutes. This cooled the pumpkin enough for me to handle it and also allowed the excess liquid to drain off onto the baking sheet. I then cut it up into large pieces, peeled off the skin and placed the cooked flesh into a large bowl.

Now this next part goes a lot faster if you own a proper Cuisinart. I, however, only have a mini prep Cuisinart that I bought years ago to make baby food for my youngest son. Even so, this little thing got the job done (if in endless batches) so I can't really complain.

I filled up my mini prep with chunks of pumpkin and pressed "chop" until it was sufficiently pureed,  dumped it into a large clean bowl and repeated the process until I had every little bit done. It took a while, but my eight-year-old son had fun helping me with this part.

This would have been a good time to use a 12 cup Cuisinart if I had one.

In all, I processed 24+ cups of pureed pumpkin. That works out to be about 12 regular sized cans of store bought pumpkin. I divided it all up into 2 cup portions in freezer safe containers and put them away into the freezer.  I then promptly made a batch of my mother's famous pumpkin bread.

It's important to note that pureed pumpkin and pumpkin butters/jams must be refrigerated or frozen to properly store it. Pumpkin is a low acid food and you can NOT can it in a boiling water bath. Even pressure cooker canning it is not safe. Be safe and healthy--store your lovely pumpkin puree in the freezer.

Also good to know is that depending on the variety, fresh roasted pumpkin has more water content than canned pumpkin. To get it to the correct consistency you will need to allow the roasted pumpkin to drain. And after pureeing if it is still too watery, you can drain some more liquid off by using some layers of cheesecloth or a very fine sieve.

During my internet search before I actually roasted my pumpkin, I saw numerous ways that intrepid people puree their cooked pumpkin. If you don't have a blender or food processor you can use a sieve and a spoon, pressing and stirring until you've got a nice puree. Alternatively, you could put the roasted pumpkin through a ricer or even use a simple masher.

However which way you do decide to make your pureed pumpkin, make sure to plan for several hours to complete the job. This whole process took me 5 1/2 hours from start to finish. Have your children help out too. I found this to be a lot of fun and I will certainly buy a huge pumpkin next year and do this all over again.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Peach Blackberry Cobbler

I have been making this recipe for years now. I originally found it in the July 2007 issue of a Cooking Light magazine.  It is absolutely fabulous! The drop biscuit topping is tender and fluffy and the whole thing comes together in almost no time at all. You can literally just toss it together while you are cooking dinner, or just before, and you'll have dessert to look forward to once you've eaten all your veggies.

You can easily make this an all peach cobbler. Or an all blackberry cobbler. Or a blueberry peach, or a triple berry, and etc. I use this recipe as the base standard for all my summer cobblers. The amount of sugar and flour called for in the filling below is a good amount for berries/fruit that are sweet and not too juicy. If you have some fruit that is more tart than sweet, like wild blackberries, you will need to add a bit more sugar to the mix. Likewise, if your fruit is very juicy, you may need to add more flour to the filling, up to about 4 tablespoons.

Serves 8

1/2 c sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp salt
2 peaches, sliced (you may leave the peels on if desired, I do)
2 dry pints blackberries
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Biscuit Topping:
1 1/3 c flour
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 c buttermilk (or plain milk if you don't have buttermilk)
1 1/2 Tbsp turbinado sugar, reserved to sprinkle on top of biscuits

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine first 4 filling ingredients in a large bowl. Add peaches, blackberries and lemon juice. Toss gently. Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the topping. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups and level off with a knife. Using a wire whisk, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. With clean hands, rub butter into the flour mix using your fingertips until the mix looks like coarse meal. You could also do this with a pastry blender if you prefer. Make a well in the middle of the mix and add the buttermilk all at once. Stir, with a wooden spoon in a circular motion, just until moist.

Remove the baking dish from oven after the 15 minute pre-bake. Drop the biscuit topping onto the hot fruit mixture in 8 spots. Sprinkle the dough with the turbinado sugar. Bake for another 25 minutes or until it's bubbly and the biscuits are golden.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Zucchini Bread with Candied Ginger

I'm an avid Farmer's Market shopper; and being one requires me to eat with the seasons. Which means that for the majority of the year, I eat whatever produce is locally in season at the time. Practically, what this looks like is weeks of eating a certain vegetable, say zucchini, in creatively different ways as to not get bored or tired of eating the same thing.

Last year I came across this cookbook that nearly called out my name from the shelf. It's perfect for my eating lifestyle. Called Eating Local, it highlights great recipes that help to make the most out of the local produce that is available at the farmers markets or through a CSA subscription. This is where I found this amazing recipe for zucchini bread; it has since become my very favorite.

Don't be scared off with the addition of the candied ginger, it really makes this bread into an almost gourmet experience. I find candied ginger at my local Fred Meyer. There's a brand called Naturally Preferred that they carry in the "healthy food" section that I like the best, but any will do.

Makes two 8 inch loaves

3 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup minced candied ginger
3 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
(For a variation, try 1 cup grated carrot and 1 cup grated zucchini. It's just as tasty and more colorful.)

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.

Sift the flour before measuring. With a wire whisk, sift together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Then stir in the candied ginger.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until light and foamy. Add the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk vigorously until the sugar dissolves. Then whisk in the zucchini (or the zucchini and carrots if doing that variation.)

Add the dry ingredients all at once to the egg mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans.

Bake for about one hour, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out loaves from the pans and leave them to finish cooling, right side up, on the rack.

Loaves should keep well, wrapped in plastic or wax paper, for about 3 days.