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

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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.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

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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