Sunday, May 28, 2017

SKILLET PEAS and POTATOES



This is a quick meal.  Super quick. Not much chopping involved either. It is meatless, in fact, it is Vegan.  But, more importantly, it is delicious.  How can you go wrong with potatoes?  Certainly if you don't care for coconut and you consume milk, you can replace with milk, just be careful about the burn factor.

This recipe is complete with substitutions.

Disclaimer:  The photo above was taken a little but before it was finished.  Once it was finished, it was like a mob scene.  No chance for photo ops.  Shhh.  I did get to steal some away for my lunch the next day before anyone else even had a taste.

SKILLET PEAS and POTATOES

1 pound small potatoes
1 cup peas
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 can or 1 cup of coconut milk
2 teaspoons Garam Masala*

In a large skillet pan or Dutch oven place your small potatoes or chopped potatoes, add about an inch of water and some salt.  Cover and cook until potatoes get fork tender.  If there is a little water in the pan let it cook out by taking off the lid, if there is still quite a bit, drain and return the potatoes to the pan.  Add in chopped onion and vegetable oil along with the garam masala.  Let the onions cook a little.  Add chopped tomato, peas and a half of a can of coconut milk. Make sure you scrape the bottom to incorporate those brown tasty bits.

*If you are not a fan of Indian food you can replace the spice with one of those spike mixes such as Montreal Steak seasoning or Rosemary garlic.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Tea time will be back soon.  I am sconed out at the moment and needed a breather from all that scone baking, In the mean time, I bring you this lovely cheesecake.  Swoon.

Some time ago it was my husbands birthday.  We celebrated with some delicious chocolate peanut butter cheesecake. I made a few mistakes but in the end it was okay.

One of the mistakes I made was that I overfilled the water.  When I make cheesecake, at least in recent times, I put it in a water bath.  I find the cheesecake to be more moist and it bakes better.  You will see this idea in a lot of recipes. It helps with not getting that infamous crack on top.
You need to have a piece of foil large enough to cover the bottom of your cheesecake.  I find that the standard foil here in the US is narrow, not wide enough to get a nice seal on the bottom of a 9" round. Most times I do not have the wider heavy duty foil.  If you want to do the water bath I recommend getting the wider foil.

The other mistake I made was not putting enough of the batter mixed with the peanut butter.  It got too thick and dint go on the cheesecake evenly.  Also the chocolate portion was dulled by too much batter.  Next time, half and half.  This will make the chocolate portion of the cheesecake more chocolatey and the peanut putter portion more pourable and spreadable.

Yes, there will be a next time because it still was good.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

crust
1 cup finely ground chocolate wafer cookies (4 ounces)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

filling
4 ounces semisweet chocolate (55 to 61 percent cacao), finely chopped
4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of coarse salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grind chocolate wafer cookies into crumbs, mix with melted butter and sugar. Line bottom and a little up the sides of a 9 inch round cheesecake pan, Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.

In a mixing bowl place cream cheese and sugar and salt.  Blend together for about 3 minutes.  Add in vanilla.  Add in eggs one at a time, mixing after each one. Scrape down sides. Mix just until blended. Divide batter in two.

In the same mixer with half the batter, add peanut butter and blend until combined.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.  Melt chocolate in bain marie or microwave, making sure just to heat it until it melts. In that same mixer combine the reserved half of batter and add in the chocolate.

Pour the chocolate batter into the prepared crust cheesecake pan.  Spoon peanut butter batter over the top. Smooth.  Place in oven on center rack.  Bake for approx. one hour and 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.  You want it to be slightly jiggly in center before you take it out.

This following alternate way of baking is not necessary but it will yield a very moist cheese cake.

If you would like to bake it the way I did (ensuring that you cover the bottom better than I did), cover the bottom of cheesecake pan in foil, making sure it is tight around.  Place in in a larger baking pan. Pour in some water to the larger baking pan (under the cheesecake pan) about an inch.  It should not be anywhere near the top of the foil on the cheesecake pan.  Once the cooking time is complete, open the oven door a crack and let the oven cool to room temperature before removing the cheesecake.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tea Time Tuesday: Blueberries






































This week Sandy from Quilting From The Rest Of Us chose blueberries as our theme.  Head on over to her blog and you can learn about some awesome blueberry tea.  I personally love blueberry tea. Pour me a up Sandy!

I feel like I should write an ode to blueberries because they are so much a part of my life.  Every year we cant wait to go picking blueberries.  We have made a picnic out of blueberry picking for at least 11 years.   This weeks "flavor" is extra special to me.

I did not make any scones this week out of blueberries. I just plain ran out of time but I am going to show you three of my favorite blueberry recipes that are from the past.  They have been made more than once in this house.

The first is blueberry tart.  This tart is slammin' jammin' blueberry rich.  It has kind of a blueberry jam beneath and then fresh blueberries on top.  It's SOOOOO good.


Blueberry Tart 
Longbotham, Lori. 'Luscious Berry Desserts'. Chronicle Books. San Francisco: 2006.
Recipe found here at Joy of Baking
Pastry:
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
2 tablespoon (25 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.54 cm) pieces
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 - 2 tablespoons ice water
Filling:
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) all purpose flour
Garnish:
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar

Pastry: In your food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). In a small bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla. Then gradually pour in a steady stream, with the motor running, through the feed tube until the pastry just holds together when pinched. Add water, if necessary. Do not process more than about 30 seconds.

Transfer the pastry to an 11 inch (28 cm) fluted tart pan, and press evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Cover and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the blueberry topping.

Preheat the oven to 425 degree F (220 degree C).

In a large bowl combine the sugar and flour. Add 2 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries and toss to coat. Remove the chilled pastry from the refrigerator and evenly pour in the blueberries and sugar/flour mixture. Place the tart pan on a large baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and continue to bake until the pastry is golden brown (about 30 - 35 minutes). (Halfway through the baking time, stir the berries if there is any flour on them.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Top with the remaining 2 1/2 cups of blueberries (crown side up), pressing them gently into the hot blueberry jam. I like to make concentric circles with the blueberries, starting at the outside edge. Let the tart cool to room temperature before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with softly whipped cream or ice cream. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator.


Makes one - 11 inch (28 cm) tart.

This one is a huge pain to make but well worth it.

Fruit Squares
My Great Aunt was apparently a caterer. This recipe comes from her.  This recipe is one of the things she use to serve.

3/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

filling of our choice (you can make your won or buy the canned pie filling)

In a large bowl beat shortening/lard with sugar.  Add eggs, milk and vanilla.  In another bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder.  Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.

After dough chills, roll out half of dough and lay in an ungreased 15-x10-inch baking sheet. Spread pie filling over it.  Roll out remaining half and place over filling or you can make a lattice top by cutting in strips and laying over top of filling, pinching the edges as you go.
Roll out dough between wax paper.  It is very sticky. If you want to make your life a little easier, chill the dough for 20 minutes before pulling the wax paper off.  Place dough on jelly roll pan about 10 x 15. Bake at 350F until golden and pulling away from the sides a little, about 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars or squares.

And finally this one. Can if in the summer and enjoy it all winter long.  We did!  Pour this all over your crumpets...


Blueberry Syrup
Ball Canning Recipe here.

8 cups blueberries, crushed (about 3-1/2 lb)
6 cups water, divided
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place blueberries, 2 cups of the water and lemon zest in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and boil gently for 5 minutes.

Pour into a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for at least 2 hours.

When ready, heat water canner to boiling. Heat jars in warm water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.

Mix sugar and remaining 4 cups water in a clean large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, and cook until temperature reaches 230°F, adjusting for altitude. Add blueberry juice. Increase heat to high, bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Using a large measuring cup pour hot blueberry syrup into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

Process jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes*, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.


*Please remember to not time your canner until it is boiling.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tea Time Tuesday: Crumpets


I have always wanted to have tea and crumpets.  It just sounds so... English.  So proper. So dainty.  I am none of these things.  But a girl can pretend, right.  Tea time is about pretend sometimes.  Like when I was a little girl.  Or the tea parties you see on television.  Like the popular commercial of the rough and tumble guy having tea with his sweet little daughter.  I would love to share the video of that one with you but can not find it on the internet. This one is kind of cute though...


The crumpets were pretty easy.  The hardest part was standing at the skillet cooking them up.  I sprayed wide mouth jar rings with cooking spray and used those as my molds.  You could use empty clean tuna cans, with bottom cut out as well.

Crumpets are a lot like an English muffin.  Taste is kind of plain.  Its all about what you put on them. They are a vehicle to flavor.  Some butter and jam- perfect.  All those nooks and crannies soaking in the yum.

This week my book to tell you about is Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts.  It's one of three, Shadow Spell and finally, Blood Magick.  Maybe I should wait to tell you about it when I read all three.  Nah...  I will forget by then.  Book one.  I love a tale of Witches.  Maybe its the feminine power thing.  Maybe it's the magic that captivates me.  This book has it all.  It is set in County Mayo, Ireland.  Romance and mystery is woven in the story leading you on through the book.  At times it can be a bit kitschy, but I don't mind.
Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #1)
If you are drinking your tea alone then, pick up a book and have a relaxing moment with your tea and crumpets.  Or if you are lucky enough to have a friend like Sandy, sit down and join that person for tea.  Head on over to Quilting For The Rest Of Us to see what Sandy is pouring this week in "our tea cups" this week.

CRUMPETS
Mostly from this recipe at Serious Eats.

2 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 3/4 cups,water
3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons powdered milk
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all the dry ingredients together and then add the water, mixing until well incorporated.  It will be a lot like pancake batter but it holds together.  Let it rest for an hour.

Coat griddle with nonstick cooking spray or oil.  Spray rings and place on griddle.  Pour batter into the ring, not filling it up- about a 1/4 cup.  Cook about 5-7 minutes on one side before turning.  It should be golden.  Push down on the crumpet to release it from the ring and flip.  Cook just long enough to make the raw go- not golden*. When pushed it should spring back.  Let cool and, of course, serve with tea, butter and jam.

*Packaged crumpets are white on one side.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tea Time Tuesday: Blackberry Lime Scones

It's Tea Time Tuesday again.  This week I am putting Blackberry Lime scones on the virtual table with my dear friend Sandy.  Pour me a cup my friend!  What are you brewing this week Sandy? I think it is blackberry tea.  hmmmm.

I have no book review this week because I was all last minute with this post.  Nice weather kept me from doing stuff inside yesterday. Except for cooking and, ah hem, baking ... blackberry lime scones.

No words this evening as my bed is beckoning.  Night night!


BLACKBERRY LIME SCONES
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces or 1 stick cold butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 cup blackberries

glaze
2 tablespoons lime juice 
1/2 cup to 1 cup confectioners sugar

Blend together the dry ingredients, including the lime zest.  I like to use my processor for this but its not necessary.  You can use a bowl and a pastry blender or a fork.  Blend in the cold butter until it turns the flour kind of mealy. In a separate bowl stir together the wet ingredients.  Stir the wet into the dry just until combined.  Spoon into a scone maker or even ramekins.  You can also pat into a round and cut into 8 pieces.  Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes.

Remove from pan after cooling for 5 minutes.  Drizzle glaze over top.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Kale and Cannelini Bean Soup with a Ham Hock


I got into making soup with ham hocks when I lived in AZ in the mid 90's.  It all started with a recipe for posole.  I couldn't find oxtails at the time so it could have been oxtails that I got into.  I did find ham hocks and it was a great discovery for me.  I have been using them ever since.  Recently, my friend Sandy (from Quilting For The Rest Of Us), turned me on to the ham hocks at an Amish (or should I say, Mennonite) store near where we live.  Great discovery!  Best ham hocks ever!
Soup Tip:  If you make soup a lot you probably already know this.  Most soups are way better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to marry. This comes in handy when you are having a large gathering.  Its something you can do ahead of time.

KALE, CANNELINI AND HAM HOCK SOUP

1 large ham hock
2 large bay leaves
1 large onion (about a cup and a half), chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large potatoes (about 2 cups), peeled and chopped
1/2 to 1 pound of kale, cleaned and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound cannelini beans
2-3 quarts chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

In a soup pot, soak beans overnight.  Drain in the morning and add a ham hock and chicken stock to the beans, cover and cook on low heat (just barely simmering) until beans are nearly tender.  Add in carrots, potatoes, garlic, kale, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook until carrots and potatoes are tender.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

It's Tea Time Tuesday: Double Chocolate Scones


It's tea time again with my good friend Sandy of Quilting For The Rest Of Us. This week we decided to get all dessert on you.  Chocolate!  Click on over to Quilting For The Rest Of Us to check out some amazing teas from Sandy.  

My book this week is The Dog Who Saved Me by Susan Wilson.  It's a heart warming story of a wounded policeman who is in the throws of a trauma from the beginning of the book.  The dog's story is interwoven with the man.  The author takes you into the man's despair and the dogs struggle. Together they learn to trust, to the greatest extent possible.  
The Dog Who Saved Me

Double Chocolate Scones
No glaze needed on these.  Dunked in some tea... heavenly


2/3 cup half and half cream 
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a food processor or bowl, combine dry ingredients, mix well.  Add in the butter pieces. Blend until the mixture looks like sand or as they say, mealy.  In a separate bow mix in the vanilla, half and half and egg.   Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix only until it comes together.  Even if there are dry clumps in spots, better to pull it out of the processor and knead it together.  Again working it only as much as needed to get together.  Pat into a big round disc and then cut into 8 segments.  I placed them in my scone pan but certainly you can place them on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  Test with a toothpick if you are uncertain.

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