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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