Monday, July 27, 2009

Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits

Our blueberries are so plentiful this year I was able to pull over on the side of the road on the way home last night to pick a cup for breakfast. I better start making some room in the freezer!
I will admit that the original recipe called these scones. I have been waiting to make them for nearly two months. It was originally in Bon Appetite's Cooking Life column by Molly Wizenberg. I love Molly's other scone recipe in her book A Homemade Life. I knew I had to try these ones as well, especially since the recipe originated from Standard Baking Company in Portland, Maine. David assured me that this place is good, but if you are expecting a scone, you will be disappointed. Now, let me assure you these are a delightful breakfast treat, they just are not a scone. They are some of the lightest, flakiest biscuits I have ever eaten. Full of buttery goodness, oats, and wild blueberries. Also, some of the largest scones (sorry, biscuits) I have ever seen in my life! I made them half the size the original recipe recommends. So, if you are looking for a delicious blueberry breakfast biscuit, this is the one!
adapted from Bon Appetite

Ingredients
3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1 cup fresh wild blueberries
1 3/4 cups chilled half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 teaspoons raw sugar

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and coarse salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter. Using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add 1 cup oats and blueberries; stir to blend evenly.
Stir half and half and vanilla in small bowl. Gradually add to flour mixture, tossing until dough just comes together to form a very moist dough.
Using 1/4-cup measuring cup for each scone, drop dough in mounds onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Sprinkle tops with remaining 3 tablespoons oats, then raw sugar.
Bake 15 minutes. Reverse sheets and continue baking until scones are golden and tester inserted into center from side comes out clean, about 12 minutes longer. (I found these took much longer to get a nice golden brown, possibly an extra 5 minutes) Transfer scones to rack and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fairbanks Governor's Picnic

TANSTAAFL


Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches with Wild Blueberry Swirl

When I saw these ice cream sandwiches on the cover of Gourmet Magazine this month I knew I had to make them. The wild blueberries are already at their peak for the season. I even took out some of the Meyer Lemon zest and juice from the freezer that I had squirreled away. If I were to make them again, I would spread out the blueberry puree a little better. The bigger chunks iced up more than I would have liked. I also had a really hard time spreading the cookie batter in the pans. Eventually I greased a piece of wax paper and just set the other pan on top and just smashed the dough down to a thin layer. That seemed to work pretty well.

adapted from Gourmet Magazine
FOR BLUEBERRY COMPOTE
2 cups blueberries (10 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
2 (3- by 21/2-inch) strips lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
FOR SANDWICH LAYERS
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
FOR LEMON ICE CREAM
2 pints premium vanilla ice cream, or one batch of homemade vanilla ice cream
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

MAKE BLUEBERRY COMPOTE:
Cook blueberries, sugar, and zest in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, thoroughly crushing blueberries with a potato masher, until juices are released and sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes.
Stir together lemon juice and cornstarch, then stir into blueberry mixture. Boil, stirring, 1 minute (mixture will thicken).
Transfer blueberry compote to a bowl and chill until cold, about 1 hour. Discard lemon zest.
MAKE SANDWICH LAYERS WHILE COMPOTE CHILLS:
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Butter two 8x8 inch baking pans and line with foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang on each side, then butter foil.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat together butter and brown sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. At low speed, add flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing until just combined.
Divide batter between baking pans and spread into thin, even layers with offset spatula. Bake until golden-brown but still tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely in pans, about 30 minutes.
MAKE LEMON ICE CREAM:
Let ice cream soften slightly and stir in lemon zest and juice. You can also make homemade vanilla ice cream and add the lemon juice and zest to the bowl towards the end of the churning process.
ASSEMBLE SANDWICHES:
Spoon all of softened ice cream over 1 sandwich layer (in pan) and spread evenly using clean offset spatula. If ice cream becomes too soft and runny, you can return to freezer for a bit. Dollop tablespoons of blueberry compote all over ice cream, then swirl it gently through ice cream with a spoon, use caution not to cut through cookie. Invert second sandwich layer over ice cream, pressing gently to form an even sandwich. Wrap baking pan in plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.
Transfer sandwich to a cutting board using overhang. Trim edges if desired, then cut into 8 pieces.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Simple Macaroni Salad for a Hot Day

The weather has been really warm the last few weeks. I don't usually feel like cooking much when it is hot and even more so, I don't want to eat much. On Saturday I decided to make a pasta salad for lunch. It was perfect for a hot day. If you can't find smoked paprika, regular will also do. I think the smoked really added something though. David thought it needed more egg, so I added an extra one to the recipe.

Simple Macaroni Salad for a Hot Day

Ingredients

1/2 lb. macaroni cooked according to package, rinsed and cooled
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color you like), chopped
1/4 cup chopped green onion, light and dark parts
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine egg, pepper, onion, parsley, and lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add mayonnaise and paprika and thoroughly mix. Mix in cooked macaroni until completely coated and season with salt and pepper.
Serves two hungry people with a little extra to bring to work for lunch the next day.

The things you see driving home in Fairbanks...





Sunday, July 19, 2009

City Dog

The mosquitos are thick at home, but I still needed a walk. With my new found manipulation techniques (see previous post) I was able to convince David and Nicole to take me for a walk in town.
We stopped to smell the flowers.


I absolutely refused to pee on the fire hydrant. Public bathrooms, yuck!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nose down, Eyes up

I have heard that there is a new book out called Nose Down, Eyes Up, it is about Jimmy. Jimmy is the Tony Robbins of the dog world, giving inspiring speeches about how to manipulate your owners. Jimmy lives in Los Angeles, so I doubt I will ever get to meet him. But, I have been practicing his one piece of advice I have heard. So far it has worked very well (results in post to follow), if only I could read...I wonder what else that book says?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dulce de Leche Brownies

These brownies were so good, they actually made me buy a book. Actually, two of them. After making these brownies I wanted a copy of every recipe David Leibovitz ever published. This was also the first time I ever made Dulce de Leche, who knew it was so simple? You can find the recipe here. These brownies were so good that I have not made them again, because I think they could become a problem. You know, the kind of problem where you would eat the entire pan if left home alone with them for more than an hour? I recommend taking them to a potluck in the pan, that way it would be embarassing if you ate half the pan before you got to the event. Maybe you just shouldn't make them at all, you could go through life never knowing what they taste like and then it would save you the trouble of trying to resist making another pan. Forget I said anything...


Dulce de Leche Brownies

adapted from David Leibovitz

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips)
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 cup Dulce de Leche

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 8-inch square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. If it doesn't reach all the way up and over all four sides, cross another sheet of foil over it, making a large cross with edges that overhang the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour.

Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Coming Soon...


Stir-Fried Chicken Salad

It has been really warm here and the smoke from the fires burning to the west of us make the days feel even more humid. At dinner, I want to turn the stove on for as little time as possible. This chicken salad is quick and easy, perfect for a really hot day.

Stir-Fried Chicken Salad
adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon bottled chopped garlic
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast tenders
1 tablespoon peanut oil
4 cups mixed salad greens
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
Lime wedges

Preparation
Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add chicken to the mixture, stirring to coat. Let stand 3 minutes.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drain chicken, reserving marinade. Add chicken to the pan; cook 4-6 minutes or until done, stirring frequently. Stir in the reserved marinade. Reduce heat; cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Remove pan from heat.

Combine greens and basil in a large bowl. Place 1 1/4 cups salad mixture on each plate. Top with chicken and drizzle with sauce, top each serving with onion and peanuts. Serve with a fresh squeeze of lime juice.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lemony Potato Salad

Rhubarb isn't the only thing growing out of control in our garden right now. We were so lucky to have a lovely perennial garden already planted for us when we moved into the house, but I will be honest, because I didn't plant the stuff, sometimes I forget that it is there. It is only when it gets to the point that it is over grown and screaming, "somebody harvest me already", that I say "oh yeah, we have chives in our garden". Last year I actually purchased some chives before I found these lovely ones. So, with this bumper crop I couldn't wait to make this potato salad that called for 1/2 cup. I love how light and fresh this salad tastes. The recipe is doubled for a party size serving. I made it for one last week and will be taking it again to a little 4th of July BBQ tonight. You can find the original recipe at Epicurious if you want to make it for a smaller group. Also, I somehow forgot to buy mayonnaise and made my own last week, I couldn't believe what a difference it made. I recommend giving it a try, it was way easier than I thought. Enjoy the day, I hope it is as beautiful wherever you are as it is here in Fairbanks.
Lemony Potato Salad
adapted from Gourmet Magazine
6 pounds small boiling potatoes
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
juice of one lemon
2 teaspoon sugar
Cover potatoes with water in a large pot and season well with salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender, 12 to 20 minutes.

While potatoes cook, stir together celery, mayonnaise, chives, lemon zest and juice, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper in a large bowl.

Drain potatoes and cool completely, then halve or quarter. Add to dressing and toss to coat.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rhubarb Bars

When life gives you rhubarb...you guessed it...another rhubarb recipe. I'll warn you, this is not the last of it by any means. Look at this stuff...These Rhubarb bars are an adaptation of my favorite lemon bar. I was hoping they would be more pink since the rhubarb puree was such a beautiful color. You could cheat and add a little red food coloring if you felt the need. I have doubled the recipe this time so you can take them to a party this weekend.

Rhubarb Bars

Crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Filling:
4 large eggs
2 cup superfine or bakers' sugar
4 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup rhubarb puree (see below)

3 tbsp powder sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and line an 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper.

To make crust:
Combine flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse until the mixture is pebbly. Press evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake until lightly golden, about 18-20 minutes. Set aside crust.

To make filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Whisk in rhubarb puree until well combined. Pour over crust (it's okay if crust is still hot). Bake until filling is just set, about 15 to 18 minutes. Cool completely before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon mixture if desired.To make rhubarb puree combine six cups of 1/2 inch diced rhubarb in a pot with 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Cover with lid and let simmer over medium heat until rhubarb becomes soft, about 20 minutes. Using a blender, or food processor (I used my immersion blender), blend mixture until smooth. If you end up with strings or chunky pieces simmer a bit longer. I could eat this stuff straight like applesauce, but I am strange like that! You will end up with about a quart of puree which can be used in a variety of recipes including ice cream or as a substitute for other fruit purees in recipes like this one

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rhubarb Muffins

One thing I find challenging in cooking is deciding what to make. Why is it that the person who cooks also always ends up deciding what to eat? I definately have those days when I know exactly what I want, but other days it really doesn't matter and I would rather have someone else make the decision. Last Saturday's breakfast fell into the latter category. So, I asked David to pick a general category as in egg, pancake, pastry, or cereal... Once I narrowed it down he chose the muffin category! As soon as he said muffin I knew what I would make. The rhubarb is taking over our garden and I have had this recipe saved since March. These are perfect Saturday morning muffins, simple to make, good with a cup of coffee. Would be perfect for relaxing morning out on the deck, and reading the paper if we weren't in Alaska at the height of mosquito season.

Cinnamon Rhubarb Muffins
adapted from Fine Cooking
Muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup whole milk yogurt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups diced rhubarb
Topping:
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil baking cups.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and whisk to blend.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Lightly stir the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients with a spatula until the batter just comes together; do not overmix. Gently stir in the diced rhubarb. The batter will be thick.
Divide the batter equally among the muffin cups, using the back of a spoon or a small spatula to settle the batter into the cups (I find slamming the pan on the counter helps). The batter should mound a bit higher than the tops of the cups.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Sprinkle a generous 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over each muffin.

Bake the muffins until they’re golden brown, and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully lift the muffins out of the pan—if necessary, loosen them with the tip of a paring knife—and let them cool somewhat before serving or they will stick to the papers. Serve slightly warm.
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