Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year-2012

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Happy New Year -may this new year bring peace, prosperity and happiness to all!

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.  ~Benjamin Franklin

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jam Thumbprints for Us Big Guys-Tuesdays with Dorie

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Back in April of 2008, while perusing foodie websites, I noticed there was a plethora of marshmallows from a baking group called Tuesdays with Dorie. I already had Baking From My Home to Yours, so it was an easy task to join the group. Now three years later, the book has been completed. Had I not joined the group, I would never made all the delicious cookies, cakes, pies and breads nor would I have become more proficient in my baking skills. Baking with such a great group of food bloggers has been a wonderful experience.  Thanks to Laurie, the brainchild of TWD, to Dorie Greenspan for writing the book, to Jules for managing the the website and to all the bakers I've met along the way. Baking with Julia will be the next book for the group. I have had this book for several years now and am excited about baking along again.

For this last recipe, Dorie chose Jam Thumbprints for Us Big Guys, an elegant nutty cookie filled with raspberry jam. Not only are the cookies delicious, but look like beautiful jewels surrounded by a cookie. You can find this recipe on page 164 of Baking from My Home to Yours and the peanut butter variation on In the Kitchen and On the Road with Dorie. Drop by and visit her lovely food and travel blog.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Greetings

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"Somehow, not only for Christmas, But all the long year through, the joy that you give to others, is the joy that comes back to you. And the more you spend in blessing, the poor and lonely and sad, the more of your heart's possessing, returns to you glad." John Greenleaf Whittier

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Caramel Ginger Crunchies

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If you are a routine visitor to my blog, then you will more than likely have figured out that I love ginger in any way shape or form. Caramel is next on the list of yummy flavors I love. These caramel ginger crunchies have both! Ground ginger and crystallized ginger pervade these sandy, but somewhat  chewy cookies topped with a caramel candies which melt into a chewy delight. Eaten plain or  crumbled over creamy vanilla, caramel or cinnamon ice cream. For the caramel, I used a wrapped hard caramel, but next time will try a wrapped creamy caramel.

Caramel Ginger Crunchies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 cup sugar
8 ounces cold, unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg
2  teaspoons honey
3 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger
45 wrapped hard caramels or if you prefer, 45 wrapped soft caramels

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Grease cookie sheets; line with parchment paper. Combine dry ingredients in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add cold butter, pulse until mixture is crumbly. Add egg, honey and crystallized ginger. Pulse until mixture comes together. 
  2. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth. Roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls; flatten slightly. Place about 1-1/2 inches apart on  the cookie sheets. Mixture will spread while cooking.
  3. Bake 13 minutes. Place one hard caramel on top of each cookie. Bake an additional 7 minutes or until caramel begins to melt. If using soft caramels, bake 17 minutes, reduce second baking time to 3-4 minutes or until caramels begin to melt.  Makes 45 cookies.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Black and White Wednesday- Nostalgia

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Brownies and Ice Cream

For Black and White Wednesday, created and hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. This will be the last BWW until January 4, giving Susan some well-deserved rest for the holidays. The Nostalgia image has a texture applied after being converted to black and white while the Brownies and Ice Cream image was converted from color to black and white using Silver Efex Pro 2.0. 

To all my black and white culinary friends-have a wonderful holiday! Will see you in the New Year!

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

St Lucia Wreath-Braided Yeast Bread with Saffron and Cardamom

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On this day, a thousand years ago King Canute of Sweden declared that Christmas would last a month from December 13, the feast of St Lucia, until January 13, St. Canute's Day. Legend has it that St. Lucia carried food to persecuted Christians hiding in dark underground tunnels and to light the way, she  wore a wreath of candles around her head. St Lucia was eventually arrested.

The festival of St Lucia begins before dawn on December 13. The eldest girl in the Swedish family dressed in a long white robe tied with a red sash and wearing a crown of lingonberries with seven lighted candles carries to her sleeping parents a tray of hot coffee and Lucia buns. Brothers and sisters follow dressed in white, holding single lighted candles and singing songs of the season.

Prominent in this bread served throughout the Christmas season are two of Scandinavia's favorite baking spices, saffron and cardamom.  The bread machine takes all the work out of preparing the dough. which when processed can also be shaped into buns or a crown, but here is the most traditional shape, the braided wreath. A sugar glaze brushed on before baking aids in the browning process. Single candles are sometimes placed in the wreath before serving. Recipe adapted from Desserts From Your Bread Machine By Lora Brody.

St Lucia Wreath
Serves 8-10
For the Dough

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 jumbo egg
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter (2 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, dissolved in and additional 1/4 cup warmed milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 2 ounces golden raisins
  • 2 ounces crystallized ginger, chopped
For the Glaze
  • 1 egg white
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. According to the manufacturer's instructions for your bread machine, add  all but the raisins and crystallized ginger to the pan of your bread machine. Process on the dough cycle. When cycle is complete, transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 24 inches long. Braid the ropes and tuck the ends under. Shape the braid into a 6 to 7-inch wreath and place on a parchment lined baking pan. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1-2 hours.
  3. While the dough is rising, make the glaze by mixing together the egg white, salt, water and sugar. Preheat the oven to 375° F. When the dough has risen, brush the wreath with the glaze. Bake the wreath for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cover the wreath lightly with aluminum foil the last 10-15 minutes of baking, if necessary. When baked, remove wreath from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Cranberry Chutney-Secret Recipe Club

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It's time again for the Secret Recipe Club where each member is assigned another blog to peruse and choose a recipe to make for the reveal date. No one knows who has his or her blog until the reveal day. It's an exciting way to meet other food bloggers and try new recipes. This month, I was assigned to Heather's blog-Join us-pull up your chair, a very well-written site with an assortment of sweet and savory. What would I choose amongst all these tasty posts? After much deliberation, I chose the Cranberry Chutney as there are still fresh ones in the grocery store and the chutney is delicious served with any meat or as a spread for sandwiches and breads. Heather began writing her blog as a way to keep up with her growing collection of recipes. She's excited about having her daughter help her in the kitchen as she helped her mother when she was growing up. 

Fresh cranberries, fresh pears, dried blueberries and crystallized ginger make up this sweet, tart and slightly savory chutney that would be delicious as a spread for your turkey sandwiches this holiday season. The flavors of the chutney go well with these apple cheddar scones, but could be used as a sauce for pork or chicken. I changed Heather's recipe somewhat, halved the proportions and did not process in a canner. I was sure the chutney would last covered and refrigerated for several weeks if I had any left.

Cranberry Chutney

4 cups fresh cranberries, washed and drained
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup peeled, cored and diced pears
2 tablespoons finely minced onion
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup small dice crystallized ginger

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients with the exception of the crystallized ginger. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and cook until thickened, about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add crystallized ginger. Cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep about two weeks refrigerated. Makes about three cups.

Apple Cheddar Scones
(Baking From My Home to Yours)

1 large egg
 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
 1/4 cup cold apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
 1/2 cup finely diced dried apples

 Preparation Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. 

Stir the egg, buttermilk and apple cider together.  

Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between – and that’s just right. 

 Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be very wet and sticky, comes together. If there are still some dry ingredients in the bottom of the bowl, stir them in, but try not to overdo the mixing. Stir in the grated cheese and dried apple. 

 Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand, or turn it with a rubber spatula 8 to 10 times. Then, because the dough is very sticky, the easiest thing to do is to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, pat it into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick and, using a dough scraper or a chef’s knife, cut it into 12 roughly equal pieces; place on the baking sheet. Alternatively, you can just spoon out 12 equal mounds onto the baking sheet. (At this point, the scones can be frozen on the backing sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don’t defrost before baking – just add about 2 minutes to the baking time.) 

 Bake the scones for 20 to 22 minutes, or until their tops are golden and firmish. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for the scones to cool to room temperature.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Black and White Wednesday-Berghoff's Restaurant, Chicago

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Traveling and family commitments have kept me out of my kitchen baking holiday treats, but I am able work on some of my travel photos for  Black and White Wednesday created by  Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook who has been posting some tantalizing holiday treats and beautiful food photos in the past few days. 

Inspired by the wide acclaim his Dortmunder-sytle beer received at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, Herman Berghoff opened the Berghoff Cafe in 1898. Beer cost a nickel and sandwiches were free. Critics gave him six months, but Berghoff was highly successful even during the Prohibition years (1919-1933) serving near beer and Bergo soda pop.  With the strong Prohibition following, but unable to survive on beer sales alone, Berghoff began serving food. The Berghoff's historical facade has remained unchanged since early 1950. Source.

Image was processed using Rad Lab, a creme anglaise texture from Flypaper Textures, then with  Topaz B&W Effects chose the camel dynamic filter from the Van Dyke brown collection.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Black and White Wednesday-Amaretti Al Cafe

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This Amaretti al Caffe, an espresso flavored almond paste cookie has been the go to cookie to bake when I have almond paste on hand. An easy cookie that never fails to please! Originally, a color image with textures added, I have converted it to sepia using Topaz-Black and White Effects

I am submitting this photo to Black and White Wednesday created and hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook
Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

White Beans and Spinach

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These worn and faded notebook pages came from my husband's grandmother's recipe book given to us by an aunt whom I think had hopes of us recreating the recipe book with photos to match. A daunting task!  Some blank pages were crumbling but I was able to salvage several which I scanned and added the Voyager texture from Flypaper Textures with the idea in mind of incorporating it into my blog somehow and -maybe a cookbook? The dish shown is a recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson's newest book- Super Natural Every Day. Heidi's book is loaded with delicious recipes that are not only healthy, but easy to prepare. Being a food photographer, I have always admired the simplicity and elegance of her photographs. In fact, I was drawn to the book's cover-an antique blue and white bowl brimming with White Beans and Cabbage, the recipe I have adapted here. I have a collection of English blue and white china, but decided to go more rustic with the dish. I had spinach on hand substituting it for the cabbage in the recipe.

Recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson's  Super Natural Every Day.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Black and White Wednesday-Coswarth House Bed and Breakfast, Cornwall

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 While vacationing in Cornwall, England just recently, we stayed for 4 nights in Coswarth House, a lovely bed and breakfast just a few minutes from the village center of Padstow, renowned not only for its beauty, but also it is home to four seafood restaurants and a patisserie  owned by English chef, Rick Stein.

This is my submission to Black and White Wednesday-A Weekly Culinary Photo Event, created and hosted by a super-talented cook and photographer, Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. If you love photos of food related subjects and love to see how they look in black and white, check out Susan's blog. Below are a few photos of the many that we took on our trip to England.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bittersweet Brownies-Tuesdays with Dorie

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A deep, dark bittersweet fudgy brownie guaranteed to please those who take their brownies seriously. And if you are an espresso lover, you can have your coffee and your chocolate at the same time by adding instant espresso to the brownie batter. We like ours with a big scoop of creamy vanilla bean ice cream and a cup of black coffee. Thanks to Leslie of Legally Delicious for her pick this week. Jessica ofCookbook Habit chose the Alsatian Apple Tart which I have not had a chance to bake but, maybe soon.

December's Tuesdays with Dorie hosts are up on the website which will complete the Baking From My Home to Yours baking event. To me, no cookbook library is complete without including this one. All of the recipes are geared toward baking for family, friends and special occasions. My favorites list keeps growing with every recipe I prepare. Thanks to LaurieJules Someone and all the TWD bakers with a special thanks to Dorie Greenspan for writing such a fabulous baking book.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Secret Recipe Club-Mexican Baked Penne Pasta with Chicken

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Mexican Baked Pasta with Chicken
Ready to Bake
A real crowd pleaser, an easy Mexican inspired pasta dish with chicken, penne pasta, and black beans. The flavors of Mexico and the Southwest abound! Cumin, chile powder and oregano along with sauteed green pepper, onion and garlic all come together to add depth to this easily doubled, maybe tripled casserole. Prepared salsa binds the mixture and shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers  gives that wonderful cheesy heat.

Although in the Secret Recipe Club, we have a month to choose a dish from an assigned blog, it was difficult for me to decide what to make from all the delicious recipes that Mary of  Barefeet in the Kitchen had to offer. Several times, I thought I knew exactly what I was going to make and then Mary would post another tantalizing dish. Finally, I chose her  Baked Mexican Cellentani, but used poached chicken instead of ground beef that I had leftover from making pot pies earlier in the week. Mary has a great collection of slow cooker recipes, one in particular, the Split Pea, Potato, Ham and Leek Soup in the Crockpot, I did make, but we enjoyed it all before I could photograph it. Another slow cooker breakfast dish, Favorite Slow-Cooked Almond Raisin Oatmeal, I plan to make later in the week. 

Mexican Baked Penne Pasta with Chicken

1/4 pound mini penne pasta 
1-1/2 cups poached chicken, large dice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1- 16 ounce jar prepared salsa-your favorite-mild, medium or hot
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained well
1-1/2- to -2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese with Jalapenos

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook the pasta, drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pepper, onion and garlic. Saute about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the poached chicken and spices. Stir to combine.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the skillet mixture, the salsa and the black beans. Toss gently to combine. In a 8-inch square dish or a round casserole dish, pour half the pasta mixture in and sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat with remaining pasta mixture and cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve with chopped avocado and sour cream, if desired. Serves 2-4.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tervis Tumbler-Ginger Orange Beer

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As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I  recently received the Tervis Tumbler to try out in my home. A microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe  unbreakable tumbler that has a lifetime guarantee-just what I needed to have in my busy kitchen. In jest, I'm accused of constantly having either a glass of iced tea, water or a hot beverage in my hand throughout the day. The Tervis Tumbler seemed to be the perfect vessel for me! Thanks to both companies for giving me the opportunity to try this product.

Last year, I made a  non-alcoholic ginger beer, a refreshing spicy, not-too-sweet cold beverage made from fresh ginger root, brown sugar, lime zest and juice. It was so popular in my house that I wanted to make it again with a different twist. The juice and zest of a large navel orange stood in for one of the limes and while the orange didn't vastly change the flavor of the ginger beer, there was a delightful sparkle to the finished drink. 

Ginger Beer

4 ounces fresh ginger, coarsely chopped-no need to peel
1 lime, zest and juice
1 large navel orange, zest and juice
2 whole cloves
1 cup light brown sugar
Soda, tonic water, or sparkling mineral water

In the bowl of a food processor, process ginger until grated. Remove to a large heatproof pitcher or measuring cup. Add both lime and orange zest and juices, cloves and brown sugar.  Add 4 cups boiling water, then stir until the sugar dissolves. Cool, strain, then chill.  To serve,  half-fill glasses with the ginger beer and top off with the soda, tonic water or sparkling mineral water.  Garnish with lime and orange slices. Top with a maraschino cherry. Serves 4.

Tervis Tumbler was received as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program and Tervis Tumblers. My opinion is my own.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Two Drinks-Blackberry Plum Sangria and Ginger Beer-Black and White Wednesday

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Blackberry Plum Sangria

Ginger Beer

Two beverages originally shot in color and converted to black and white using Topaz Black and White Effects for the Ginger Beer and Silver Efex Pro 2.0 for the Blackberry Plum Sangria which also has a layer of texture brushed away from the pitcher and glasses. These two photos are being submitted to Black and White Wednesday, created and managed by a talented black and white image aficionado, Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Depths of Fall Butternut Squash Pie-Tuesdays with Dorie

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I was pleasantly surprised to find that this Depths of Fall Butternut Squash Pie was not your traditional pumpkin-like pie. It contained no eggs, but was a chunky, fruity nutty mixture that was so delicious that there must be other ways to use this delicious filling besides being encased in a pie crust. I just wish now I had made the whole pie instead of settling for a half recipe and making mini-pies. Not having practiced enough with the the Personal Pie maker, I misjudged the thickness of the crust, so ended up with the outer edges of the crust too brown and the pie not done.  So back in they went to finish cooking. I salvaged two of the better ones to photograph, but in my house, we eat my mistakes, so topped those with ice cream. I will continue to practice with the pie maker and hope to finally succeed in turning out the pies I see in the Mini Pies Cookbook.

Thanks to Valerie of  Une Camine dans la Cuisine for choosing this recipe and  who has a beautiful version of this pie on her blog, along with the recipe. Also, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie site to view other delicious Depths of Fall Butternut Squash Pie.

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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Bavarian Apple Cake

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Volumes have been written about apples, one of the most popular fruits and one of the most versatile of all. The apple is packed full of nutrients, is low in calories and possibly lives up to the adage of "an apple a day keeps the doctor away. The apple tree originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan, the ninth largest country in Europe whose borders include Russia, China and the Caspian Sea. Apples are now cultivated worldwide and are available year-round.

When choosing apples, look for firm fruit with no bruising or pressure marks which denote a mottled pulp. Wash apples thoroughly before using to clean off dust or pesticide or fungicide sprays. Apples keep for several days at room temperature or in the refrigerator for about two weeks.

While there are thousands upon thousands of recipes for apples, sweet and savory, this Bavarian Apple Cake is one that I've made many times. Delicious for picnics, brunches, for dessert or just about any time, the cake is basically a yeast-raised dough made simple by processing in a bread machine on the dough cycle. 

Bavarian Apple Cake

1-1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
2-1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk

2 large baking apples
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

For the dough-Add all the ingredients for the dough in the order suggested by your bread machine manual and process on the dough cycle according to manufacturer's directions.
At the end of the dough cycle, remove the dough from the machine. Preheat oven to375°.
On a lightly oiled  baking sheet, press out the dough with hands into a 10-inch circle. Peel and core the apples, then cut them into thin slices. Arrange the slices in concentric circles on the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Mix the sugar with the cinnamon and ginger and sprinkle over the apples. Sprinkle the finely chopped crystallized ginger over the apples. Bake 50-60 minutes, until golden brown.

Note-If you prefer a thinner cake, divide the dough in half, spread into a 10-inch circle, but double the topping ingredients and follow instructions for topping the dough with the sliced apples. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Yields one thick cake or two thinner cakes.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging #308 which begins its 6th successful year! Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once, the lovely and adept manager of WHB is hosting #308, having been given the honor by Kalyn, the creator of this popular and informative event.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Lanhydrock House Scullery-Black and White Wednesday

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The scullery at Lanhydrock House in Cornwall, England, one of the several rooms dedicated to preparing food for the many generations of Robartes family. Lanhydrock House was built in the 1620's and was occupied by the same family until 1953 when it was given to the The National Trust. For Black and White Wednesday, created and hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook who has one of the best blog events going in the blogger world. Image shot with a Leica d-lux5, uploaded to an iPad and edited with Snapseed.  Because we travel frequently, either in the car or on an airplane, this editing program is my go to for the times when I don't want to use my computer. Before I travel, I use a card reader to upload the photos I want to edit, then while on the road or in the air, I can access them easily.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekend Herb Blogging #307-The Roundup

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Today, I will be out with my family on a hayride and a picnic to enjoy the beautiful fall scenery, so am up early this morning to begin the roundup of some of the most delicious and ingenious dishes from food-loving bloggers scattered over the globe. Find a comfy chair, have a steaming cup of tea or coffee and join me. Before I begin, I would like to thank Haalo who is also host for WHB#308 for her flawless management of this event  created by Kalyn and is now in its sixth year.

Redolent with the heady spices, a nutty hummus delicious
as a dip for fresh vegetables.
Bombay Hummus
Janet-Taste Space
Toronto, Canada

Garden fresh charbroiled tomatillos add depth to the
ever-popular guacamole dip. Serve with home-
baked tortilla chips.
Guacamole with Tomatillos and Easy Baked Tortilla Chips
Claudia-Honey From Rock

An aromatic stir-fry fashioned from home- preserved
Asian leaf mustard gently tossed with crisp tofu.
Home-Preserved Leaf Mustard Greens with Crisp Tofu Sitr-fry
Tigerfish-Tezscape-An Escape to Food

From a successful gardener comes a simple, yet flavorful braised
celery dish reborn the next day as a silky potato celery soup.
A Look Back at the 2011 Garden and some Braised Celery
Rachel-The Crispy Cook
 Saratoga County, New York

Delicate curls of gramigna pasta are coated with a pumpkin-
mozzarella sauce and a touch of nutmeg-a delicious offering
for fall.
Gramigna (pasta) with Roasted Pumpkin and Mozzarella
Cristina-La Cucina Cristina

Laden with fresh herbs, a piquant Italian salsa verde, a versatile sauce traditionally
hand-chopped, but quickly accomplished using a food processor.
Italian Salsa Verde
Vicki-Flavors of the Sun
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Umbrian sausages flavored with a tomato-based sofrito, then nestled in a bed of
Castelluccio lentils is total comfort food.
Castelluccio Lentils with Sausage
Haalo-Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once

Saffron adds a delicate yellow hue to this spinach and cheese stuffed tortellini soup flavored with tarragon.
Saffron and Tarragon Tortellini Soup

A delicious and healthy twist on the traditional potpie-a vegetable mixture of chickpeas,
sweet potatoes, carrots, peas and more topped with a cornbread crust.
Chickpea Potpie with Cornbread Crust
Joanne-Eats Well With Others
New York

Serve this tangy tangerine and pineapple marmalade with a chunk of gouda cheese
on a slice of wholegrain bread. Oils from the tangerine peel bump up the citrus flavor.
Tangerine and Pineapple Marmalade

From my kitchen, a sweet fig focaccia using fresh, juicy figs. Perfect for
a picnic as dessert or as an addition to brunch.
Sweet Fig Focaccia
Lynne-Cafe Lynnylu

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sweet Fig Focaccia- WHB#307

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Although I love dried figs, and often times can use the fresh and dried interchangeably, I love having fresh figs on hand, beautiful to photograph and delicious to use in many recipes, sweet or savory. California figs are available fresh from June through September, but some European varieties can be found through autumn. Sweet as honey, juicy and studded with tiny seeds, fresh figs are also highly perishable and should be used handled gently and used quickly. Figs, both dried and fresh, are a great source of fiber, calcium and potassium, but you might not know that even the fig leaves have healthful properties to those with diabetes and may lower the amount of insulin needed to keep diabetes under control.

Thought to be the first fruit cultivated in Egypt, figs were revered in ancient Greece with strict laws forbidding the export of the prime quality figs. California is the largest producer of figs in the United States having been introduced by the Spanish missionaries in the late  19th century. Source

The rich dough for this sweet fig focaccia is easily made in the bread machine and can be made a few hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to assemble.  It begins with a sponge, a pre-ferment, also made in the bread machine , then the remaining ingredients are added. Sliced Brown Turkey figs are scattered across the top, then turbinado sugar is sprinkled on before allowing the bread to rise briefly resulting in a crunchy sweet topping perfect for a mid-morning snack or for an addition to a brunch.  This recipe comes from Carol Field's superb book, Italy in Small Bites and is adapted for the bread machine.

Sweet Fig Focaccia

2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup warm water (105°-115°)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 pound sliced fresh or dried figs (if using dried figs, cover them with warm water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry before using.)
1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar 

For the Sponge-In a bread machine pan, place ingredients in according to manufacturer's instructions for your machine., Process on the dough cycle. When machine has fully mixed the sponge, turn off the machine, cover and let stand 30 minutes until bubbly.  Add remaining ingredients, process on the dough cycle. When cycle is complete, remove the dough from the machine pan and place on a lightly floured surface. Let rest 5-10 minutes.

Lightly oil a 10-1/2 by 15-1/2 -inch baking sheet. Stretch the dough out in the pan. Cover with a towel and let rest 10 minutes.Then stretch out again until it covers the pan. Scatter the sliced fresh or dried figs over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar, cover and let rise until nearly doubled.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400° F. Bake the focaccia for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° and continue to bake for about 15 minutes until browned and bubbly. Remove from oven, cool slightly then remove from pan. Serves 8-10.

My entry as host in Weekend Herb Blogging #307.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Weekend Herb Blogging # 307 Announcement

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October is a perfect time for me to host  Weekend Herb Blogging as Fall is my favorite season. This is the season of abundance-winter squashes, root vegetables, greens, fruits- the list is endless. Send me your entries to this long-running event, the brainchild of Kalyn and now superbly managed by Haalo. The rules are simple and can be found here. The deadline is 3:00 pm Utah time, Sunday, October 31, 2011.  

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Old Cookbook Still Life and Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Restaurant-BWW

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English Cookery Book Circa 1930's

Having a quiet time while visiting friends in England, I came upon some old books and thought them a good still life subject for  BWW hosted by the highly talented Susan Wolfe of The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Fifteen- Watergate Bay, Cornwall
Now in Cornwall for a few days before going back to visit our dear friends in Wimborne, we are staying a in beautiful B&B in Padstow and dining in Rick Stein's popular seafood restaurants. We had lunch at Fifteen Cornwall yesterday and had a lovely 3 course meal.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Italian Prune Plums-Black and White Wednesday

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For Black and White Wednesday hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. Image shot handheld  in black and white mode with a Canon 5D Mark 11 with a 100 mm Macro lens. Using  the Lo-Fi App and shuffling through the film, mood and frame choices, I finally decided on classic Kodachrome slide film with a slight blur and heavy grain and a vignette frame.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Apple Nut Muffin Cake-Tuesdays with Dorie

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The perfect cake for entertaining, this apple nut muffin cake can be served warm or at room temperature. Like the muffin it's named for, it would be delicious with butter and jam. Chopped fresh apples and apple cider add that great apple flavor with walnuts adding some crunch and raisins rounding out the sweet flavor. Usually, for TWD, the host of the week posts the recipe on his or her blog, but I've substituted apple butter (see Note) for part of the unsalted butter to lower the fat some, used hard cider as I had it on hand, plus substituting golden raisins for the raisins and increasing the amount. My apologies to  our lovely host, Katrina of Baking and the Boys

Apple Nut Muffin Cake
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup hard cider, or apple cider
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup spicy apple butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup moist, plump golden raisins
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter 4 four-inch springform pans or an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and placed on a baking sheet.
  2. Whisk together the milk, hard cider, egg, vanilla and almond extracts, butter and apple butter.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt to combine thoroughly. Toss in the brown sugar, making sure there are no lumps , then add the oats and whisk once more time combine. Gently stir in the apples, nuts and raisins. Scrape batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool a few minutes before running a knife around the sides of the pan and unmolding the cake; invert and cool until warm, or room temperature. If desired split large cakes and serve with butter and jam. Makes 4 cakes or 1 8-inch square. The cake is best eaten the day it is made, but can be wrapped tightly and frozen for  up to 2 months. Warm in a 350 degree F. oven before serving.
Note: You can substitute up to 3/4 of the fat called for in a recipe with apple butter, apple sauce or other similar fruit butters and sauces.

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