Friday, August 28, 2009

Cheddar Crackers with Tomato Jam

I recently participated in a jam exchange at Steph Chows. She stopped by my site and asked me to join in the fun. I never realized that she lives here in Rochester. Whoa- that is totally cool. Now, I think I should organize Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo bloggers for a get together.
My package arrived with two little jars of jelly inside. Two tastey morsels of amazing, melt in your mouth, delicious, perfectly flavored tomato jam. I had to think of something special to do with the jam. The jam is from Natalie of Natalie's Killer Cuisine. (go check out her jam, it is AMAZING).

After returning from our trip and quick look at the fridge's contents told me I needed to do something real fast with the sharp cheddar that I had in there. I had two packs from a recent trip to an Amish store in Penn Yan. The one had an end that was starting to mold. I shaved off that end and shredded all of it up to make some amazing cheddar crackers. The crackers are amazing but paired with this jam, it is a combination that takes taste over the top. After I had the jam with it, the plain crackers just did not taste as good.

In the words of Andy Griffith, "Good cracker."

Aged Cheddar Crackers
inspired from this recipe at EpicuriousItalic
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 lb sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (preferably in a food processor)
1 large egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon nigella seeds

Blend together butter, cheese, and yolk in food processor until smooth. Add flour, dried mustard, and salt and pulse until just combined. Add pepper and nigella seeds, and pulse until combined well, then transfer to a sheet of wax paper. Shape into a log (1 1/2 - 2 inches thick), using paper as an aid, then roll up log in paper and twist ends of paper to close. Chill log until firm, about 2 hours.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unwrap log and cut enough thin slices (about 1/8 inch thick) from it to fill baking sheet, arranging slices 1 inch apart. Return log to fridge. Bake until edges of crackers are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer on parchment to a rack and cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Make more crackers in batches with remaining dough.

Serve crackers warm or at room temperature.

Cooks' notes: Dough can be chilled, wrapped additionally in foil or in a sealed plastic bag, 1 week or frozen 2 months. Crackers can be baked 1 week ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature. If desired, reheat on 2 baking sheets in a preheated 350°F oven about 5 minutes.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Dobos Torte


Anatomy of a Daring Baker Challenge.

First, you wait the infinitely long period of time between the challenge you just completed and the challenge you are about to face. You keep checking the site to see if it's up yet. Then you see the challenge and you are either pleasantly surprised or displeased. If you are pleasantly surprised and you have never done the challenge before, you think, okay it's looks a little daunting. If you are displeased witht he challenge, you just tough it out and maybe in the end find out your really glad you tried it, despite your misgivings.

You read the directions, you read them again and you read them again.... And finally you work up the courage to do the challenge. Maybe you will only take it one component at a time. But then you get started and think, hey I could do a few more components. Suddenly you are nearly there. And you think, hey, that wasn't so bad.

If you are anything like me, you are wondering what amazing thing Tartelette is going to come up with or many of the other amazingly talented Daring Bakers. I always have hopes of being really amazingly artistic but in the end, either I am too challenged by the challenge or time becomes a challenge or lack of experience. Any one of these variables makes it all challenging. But you do it anyway. For better or worse you complete the challenge. But you learn so much. I have learned, thanks to Daring Bakers, so much about different desserts and most of all I have learned that an Opera Cake is MY FAVORITE CAKE of all time. But this torte is certainly very delicious. I wasn't too thrilled about the caramel but goodness it was a tastey cake!

August's Daring Bakers' Challenge has been chosen by Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella and me, Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar. We have chosen the famous Dobos Torta, a Hungarian specialty.

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

Equipment

* 2 baking sheets
* 9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
* mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
* a sieve
* a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
* a small saucepan
* a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
* metal offset spatula
* sharp knife
* a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a springform tin.
* piping bag and tip, optional

Prep times

* Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
* Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
* Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
* Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes

Sponge cake layers

* 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
* 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
* 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
* pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

* 4 large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
* 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
* 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping

* 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
* 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
* 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches

* a 7” cardboard round
* 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
* ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)
4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the center and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the center rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)
A baked layer.

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-colored caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos

1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the center of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavor.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cheesy Dilled Zucchini Fritters


I love zucchini. I know there are people out there that don't. But hey if you don't, have you ever tried chocolate zucchini cake. You would never know it had zucchini in it. But that is precisely what I love about zucchini. VERSATILITY in a CHEAP vegetable.

Cheesy Dilled Zucchini Fritters
Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness

2 medium zucchinis, shredded
4 oz shredded cheese, I used Gruyere
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
3 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
1 small onion minced
s and p

Place shredded zucchini in a colander over a bowl and salt. Let stand 20 minutes. Squeeze excess water out and combine with remaining ingredients.

Fry in a little oil until browned.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Goats Milk turns into Cajeta

Sometimes I am just so curious about things. Take for instance macarons. I just had to make those so I could taste what they were all about. So glad I did because I have made them several times since. Now, it is cajeta.

Cajeta- think Dulce de Leche with goats milk. I was so curious to find out what it is that I actually hunted down a goat farm and bought some milk. Now the milk, because it is not pasteurized, is not really recommended for consuming. I just ignored that. Besides I was planning to heat it to the nth degree. I mean lots of boiling and lots of stirring. It still is not really where I want it to be but the microwave will fix that. A couple minutes to get it heated and then some minutes to let some of the moisture out should thicken it up a bit more.

I am glad I took the time to investigate this. It was an experience that I am glad I am on the other side of. Would I do it again? No. Too much stirring. I can buy a can of dulce de leche. I like the cows milk, just the same.

My husband has been drizzling it over yogurt with some granola sprinkled on top.

Cajeta
Ingredients:
2 quarts of goat’s milk
2 cups of sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of baking soda

Method:
1. Stir together the milk and sugar in a large pot (make sure the liquid only goes half-way up the sides as it’s going to get frothy at one point and you don’t want it boiling over) and add the cinnamon and vanilla (if using a bean, split it lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the liquid and add the pod as well). Bring to a boil on medium heat while constantly stirring. This will take about 15 minutes.
2. When milk boils, remove from heat and add baking soda (dissolved in a bit of water) to the pot. The mixture will rise and get frothy, but as long as you keep stirring it will be fine.
3. Place the pot back on the stove on medium heat, and stir and stir and stir (though if you need to take a break, leaving the pot unattended for a minute or so won’t cause any harm to the cajeta). Make sure the milk stays at a gentle simmer rather than a raging boil.
4. After about an hour, the milk should start to turn golden brown. Remove the cinnamon stick and the vanilla pod. At this point, it will start to thicken fast, so it’s important to keep stirring so the milk doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
5. Keep stirring until the mixture is a rich brown and thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, which will happen in about 15 minutes.
6. Pour into a glass container. It should keep in the refrigerator for a week, though mine has never lasted that long.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blueberry Creamy Dreamy Ice Cream

We are busily getting ready for our vacation here. Sadly, it will just be me and my girls going. My husband has lots of work to do. What a bummer. But on the bright side after our time away we will all be so happy to see one another that we will appreciate each other just a bit more. As the expression goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

You know with all these blueberries we picked, I just had to make some blueberry ice cream. I admired the one from Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan, so I just had to give it a swirl!

Yum, delicious, really everyone this has such nice flavor, its one of the best ice creams I have made this summer.

Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen, if frozen, thaw and drain)
2/3 cup sugar, or more to taste
Pinch of salt
Grated zest of one lemon
Juice of 1 a lemon, or more juice to taste
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sour cream

In a medium saucepan cook blueberries, sugar, salt, lemon zest and juice over medium heat, stirring, until mixture boils and the berries pop and soften, about 4 minutes.

Pour the berry mixture into a blender and whirl until a seemingly homogeneous puree is achieved, about 1 minute. The mixture will not be completely smooth. Add the heavy cream and sour cream and pulse to blend. Taste and add a bit more lemon juice or sugar if you choose.

Pour the blend into a bowl and refrigerate until it is chilled before churning into ice cream.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

QUICK and DELICIOUS DESSERT

We had a friend over for dinner the other night, our last time seeing him before he becomes a married man. I am so excited for him. He is such a nice fellow and I love that he is always so positive and hopeful. It's kind of contagious when you are around him. He has a very long trip to India this weekend. My husband and I would so love to go. There will be 2000 people at his wedding. No that is not a typo for 200, I really meant 2000. He said it is not uncommon in India to have so many people.

I made him dinner and would love to show you a picture but you will have to wait until the next time I make it. It was so gobbled up by all of us. But I do have a pic of dessert to share.

You know I was so focused on making the main meal that I forgot to make something for dessert. I know probably most of you have made these but in case there is someone out there who has missed out, these are a must try for you. They come together very quickly.

Saltine Cracker Toffee

21 plus Saltine crackers
2 sticks real butter
1 cup sugar
12 oz. real milk chocolate chips

Line a cookie sheet with foil, making sure there are no holes or cracks. If you overlap foil just make sure it is sealed. Cover entire bottom of pan with whole saltines, letting foil extend up sides of pan. For three minutes, boil butter and sugar. Pour over crackers. Bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and allow to soften in oven. Remove from oven and spread chocolate evenly. Let cool and harden. Peel foil off and break candy into pieces.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Paper Chef: August


Bloggersville is just filled with all kinds of cooking and baking groups. I like that. With many choices you can pick a group that is perfect for you or you can start your own. Which is what Temperance and I did for Recipes to Rival. While I love our group, Paper Chef offers a unique experience than a lot of the other baking groups. Basically, you just stop by for any given month, see what the ingredients are for that month and create a dish with those ingredients. You can participate as little or as much as you like.

I haven't done Paper Chef in quite some time. I was glad to see this months pick- couscous, chilies, peaches and rosemary. Good choice Javaholic. I am very pleased with how this dish came out. Very tastey and I actually would make it again.

Rosemary Scented Toasted Israeli Cous Cous Timbales with Chili Peach Sauce
Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness

1/2 pound Israeli Cous Cous
2 cups chicken broth
2 sprigs rosemary
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
s and p
3 ounces Empire Jack cheese or some other nice melting cheese, grated
1 egg
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1 cup cooked broccoli, chopped small

Sauce:
1/2 heavy cream
1 cup peach puree
1/2 of an anaheim chili
s and p

In a saucepan melt butter and let brown, add cous cous and rosemary and cook in butter until the cous cous is toasted. Meanwhile, heat the chicken broth. Add the chicken broth and salt and pepper when the cous cous has become a little toasted. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the cous cous becomes tender. Drain. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk egg a little- add cheese, parsley and green onion. Mix in couscous and broccoli. Pour into sprayed muffin tins or ramekins. Bake at 350F for about fifteen to twenty minutes, depending on the size of your pan. You want to see it pulling away from the sides a little. Remove and let cool.

While the cous cous timbales are baking make the sauce. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan heat cream with a chunk of chili until it is just about to boil. Remove from heat, cover and let cool. Remove the chile after the mixture has cooled. In a blender, puree about two or three peaches. Add the heavy cream.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Scones



I was thinking the other day that so many people here in NY love going to Florida for the winter. No offense, cause Florida is nice, but I am more of a Cape Cod kinda girl. It doesn't matter whether its bathing suit or sweater weather, it's my kind of place.

I think it's the Cape Cod in the title that made me want to try these scones. Or maybe it was the copious amount of heavy cream. In either case, so glad I did because these really are great scones. I ended up tweaking the recipe a bit. I have made them three times. I added a little vanilla and a little more cream. I found the batter was a little too dry with 1 1/4 cups so I went with 1 1/2. I have been having them for breakfast. The kids love them. And forget what you heard about scones being dry- these are not. These are moist and delicious. The key is to not overbake. The recipe says 15 to 17 minutes. Go for the fifteen. Even if it is a little doughy in the center it will be very moist.

Cape Cod Scones
Original recipe can be found here, at Serious Eats

2 cups all-purpose flour, measured after sifting
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the rack in center position. The scones will bake on a ungreased heavy-duty baking sheet.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Use a table fork to mix well. Dribble the cream over the dry ingredients while mixing with the fork. Continue mixing gently just until the mixture forms a rough, sticky ball of dough.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, sprinkle lightly with flour, knead 10 times by pushing the half closer to you down and away from you with the heel of your hand and fold it back over itself, giving it a quarter turn each time.

Pat the dough into a 9-inch disk. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cut into wedges after cooling for about five or ten minutes.

Serve warm with curd or jamhmmmmmmmm.



Friday, August 7, 2009

Yum cherries

Does this ever happen to you? You see all these great recipes for let's say, goat cheese and then you get the goat cheese and your like where are all those recipes that I was going to make with goat cheese. So then you do a search, internet and or cookbooks and you still can not find a recipe that appeals to you, using goat cheese.
Hate that.

Cherries here have been horrible this year. There was so much rain that they were about ready to burst off the vine. Cherry explosions around the orchard. And because there was so much rain and little sun there was not much flavor or sweetness to the cherries. Enter the Washington cherry. Rainier. Thank goodness. We ate so many. I canned them and I baked with them. Here's a little yum for yah!

Cherry Brown Butter Tart
Smitten Kitchen
and the original from Epicurious can be found here.

Crust:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 pound sweet cherries, which will yield 12 ounces of pitted cherries, which yielded some leftovers, perfect for snacking (alternately, you can use 12 ounces of the berry of your choice)

Make crust: Preheat oven to 375°F.

Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to a tart pan, and use your fingertips to press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, about 18 minutes. Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.

Make the filling: Cook butter in heavy small saucepan (a lighter-colored one will make it easier to see the color changing, which happens quickly) over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often and watching carefully, about six minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup to cool slightly.

Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.

Arrange pitted cherries, or the berries of your choice, in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake tart until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool tart completely in pan on rack.

Do ahead: Can be made at least a day ahead, and stored at room temperature. Any longer, keep them cool in the fridge.

* Next time, because my cherries were so big, I think I would have cut them in half. Or I could make this when raspberries are in season, yum.

* If you are wondering why mine are bars, I simply cut the tart into bars because we ended up taking it over some friends house.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Japanese Slaw with Daikon Radish

I love cabbage. I am very Polish in this sense. Love dill. Love potatoes. Love beets. Love poppy seeds. All kinda Polish-y things. My very Italian husband, not so much. I tell him, babe, cabbage is like medicine. It's so good for you. He didn't have too much trouble wolfing down this one. Me neither. Honestly, I could have just a bowl full of this on a hot day and that would do it for me.

Okay, so I have to bring it up. I have been wanting to say something for a while. Some of you won't even know what I am talking about but some of you will. I miss Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita! I miss her blog, I miss her writing, her food. I wanted to email her but I can't even find that. So Maryann, if your out there and reading this blog, I miss you!

Update: I found this entry from Italyville on Maryann.
2nd Update: I have renamed the title of this post, Japanese Slaw, based on all your feedback.

Crunchy Cabbage and Daikon Salad
based on a recipe from Martha Stewart's Healthy Quick Cook
*I made a huge batch of this stuff and tightly wrapped it. I pulled out some as needed and put my dressing on about 15 minutes before the meal. Lunch, dinner, or snack.

2 cup shredded purple cabbage
2 cup shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded daikon
2 cups shredded carrot
Sesame Vinaigrette ( I won't tell you how much to add because that's a personal thing- to douse or not to douse)

I used a funky shredder that makes thin, sinewy slices. I use it all the time. So as far as gadgets go this is one that is pretty helpful. Mix all in a large bowl.

Sesame Vinaigrette
based on a recipe from Martha Stewart's Healthy Quick Cook

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon water
*okay this is bad but I added a Oriental Ramen Noodle flavor packet. Why, because I use half packets to season the noodles. So I end up with tons of flavor packets laying around.

Place all ingredients in a bottle and shake it up. A little exercise for yah! This is a superb dressing. I was suppose to add a tablespoon of peanut oil but I just added an extra tablespoon of canola.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Blueberry Fields Forever

Annual Blueberry Day is a favorite in our household. Every year for about four years we have picked blueberries at an eight acre blueberry farm. We have added activities on as we go. Each year our event gets a little better. It's a family thing. My husband takes the day off from work and my parents go as well. We have had friends join us some years as well.

The day starts out pretty early before the sun gets too hot. This year we picked around twenty pounds of blueberries. My parents picked the same (ah, yeah, we helped them quite a bit). Yup, its a lot but I freeze them and can them and of course we eat a bunch of them as well.


It had rained the day before so by the time I was done picking my whole right side was completely wet. Kept me nice and cool.
Down the road from the blueberry farm is this great park by Lake Ontario. The kids have a blast! There's a playground and this water playground. We have our little picnic and enjoy it all.

After that there is a place right nearby where they have kiddie rides for 25 cents a piece. How can a kid and a parent go wrong at those prices!

After all that we end the day with an ice cream cone. Now tell me, does it get any better when you are a kid. And for me, it was a magical day because I could watch my kids totally enjoying themselves and I was surrounded by people I love.

After we get home, I freeze blueberries. The next day I make jam. What a jam it was. Since some of the blueberries were slightly underripe there was quite a bit of pectin in them. The jam set up right while I was cooking. The recipe said it would yield 64 ounces, I got 78, yup, you read that correctly. It didn't have to boil down as much.
Vanilla Blueberry Preserves

1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
9 cups blueberries, mashed
6 cups sugar

Combine all in a large pot and cook until it thickens. Watch carefully and stir often when it thickens up. It will burn real easy. When it thickens, remove the vanilla pod and discard (it should be pretty used up at this point).

Pack into sterilized jars (boiled) and wipe rims clean. Process for ten minutes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Recipes to Rival: Limoncello and Bruschetta



This Recipes to Rival challenge finally gave me the boost I needed to make the limoncello. Thank you to our lovely hostess, Lauren of Fried Pickles and Ice Cream for choosing an easy peasy recipe for a busy, hot July. It was perfect. I have been wanting to make Limoncello for quite some time. Yeah! I have not tasted it yet as it is not ready but I am looking forward to doing that real soon.
The bruschetta is light and scrumptious. I changed things up just a bit. I made some bruschetta canned tomatoes (recipe below)last season and I wanted to use it on the bread. Then I placed a bit of Fontina on top because I am in love with Fontina (shhhh, don't tell my husband).

Bruschetta
(4 servings)

4 slices Rustic Bread
2 cups chopped Roma Tomatoes
1 clove Garlic
4 to 8 leaves Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt

-Heat grill or grill pan to medium high heat
-Slice THICK pieces of bread
-Place bread on grill until each side has a nice golden color

-Rub garlic on top side of each bread piece
-Pile tomatoes on
-sprinkle one big pinch of salt per piece on top of the tomatoes
-generously drizzle oilve oil on top of tomatoes (about 2 to 3 tablespoons per piece)
-add basil to the top

Limoncello

1 liter grain alcohol (I used Vodka)
5 1/2 cups water
5 large lemons (or 10 small lemons)
2 1/2 cups sugar

-Gently wash lemons in cool water to remove any dirt
-Peel away zest from lemon leaving the pith (the white stuff) behind.
-Put peels in a large sealed jar or container.
-Pour alcohol over peels and place container in a cool place.
-Leave the mixture for 7 days ( or longer as I will do).
-Every day give the container a little swirl (this is not totally necessary but go ahead if you can help yourself).
-After 7 days (or later), strain the alcohol by using a coffee filter.
-Prepare the simple syrup. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar to dissolve.
-Mix the syrup with the alcohol. DO NOT DO THIS NEAR A FLAME.
-Pour the limoncello into bottles or containers. Let cool completely. Store in the freezer until ready to serve!

* I will be leaving my vodka with the rinds for a bit longer. I think the flavors will come out a bit more if I leave them.

Bruschetta in a Jar
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (have I mentioned that this book has become my right hand?)

5 cloves of garlic
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp dried basil
2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
9 cups chopped cored peeled plum tomatoes (about 4 lb or 12 medium)

Directions:
1.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.) COMBINE garlic, wine, wine vinegar, water, sugar, basil, oregano and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes or until garlic is heated through. Remove from heat.
3.) PACK tomatoes into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Ladle hot vinegar mixture over tomatoes leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
4.) PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner for 20 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.

Homemade Maraschino Cherries

I wanted to make some homemade maraschino cherries. After scouring the internet I finally found one that was to my liking. A lot of the recipes are made with maraschino cherry liquor. Not that it's a bad thing- by no means- it's not. But after purchasing some liquor recently the last thing I wanted to do was go and drop some more of my cash at the liquor store. So I went with these.

My only regret is that I did half of a recipe and really these were fabulous- would make them again but with the full recipe. They are not as sweet as the store bought kind but they do have a lot of flavor. If you like them real sweet just add more sugar than is called for.

Maraschino cherries can be made with any kind of a sweet cherry. Generally it is made from Rainier, Royal and Gold varieties. It is a bit of a misnomer though because they all began with the Marasca Cherry in Italy. You can read more about the Marasca Cherry and the liquor here at Wikipedia.

Homemade Maraschino Cherries
recipe found here at Recipezaar

4 1/2 lbs pitted red cherries
4 1/2 lbs white sugar
3 cups water
juice of 1 lemon
1 ounce almond extract
1 ounce red food coloring
brine:
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon alum

Soak pitted cherries overnight in heated brine. The next morning, drain cherries. Rinse them in cold water. Combine cherries, water, sugar, lemon juice, and red food coloring. Heat to the boiling point.Let stand about 24 hours.

Again, boil juices, pour over cherries and let stand 24 hours.

Bring to boil again. Add almond extract and cherries. Pack in hot sterilized jars and seal. The Ball Blue book says boil this in a water bath-pints-20 minutes, quarts-25 minutes.

*If you are the daring sort you could use the cherry pits to flavor them rather than the almond extract, which is the same thing anyway. Just take them out before canning.

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