Fall Apples with Blue Cheese, Bacon Jam, & Toasted Walnuts

November 06, 2019

Perfect quick appetizer that will still wow at that next potluck or dinner party. Crisp, seasonal apples or ripe pears make this delicious but the Apple Maple Bacon Jam really makes is sing! 

Slice 1 large Honey Crisp Apple (or 2-3 ripe pears) into thin slices;

Toast about 1/4 cup walnuts and chop roughly;

Arrange your apple slices nicely around a platter;

Crumble blue cheese over top of slices;

Stir a jar of Terrapin Ridge Apple Maple Bacon Jam to loosen jam;

Drizzle atop the slices of apple and blue cheese;

Add the chopped toasted walnuts;

Enjoy!

Oatmeal Bowl

April 18, 2018

A gray day calls for a warming bowl of oatmeal, don’t you think? Especially when it’s prettied up with fresh berries, granola, nuts, and a swirl of local honey. Even though it takes longer to cook, I like steel cut oats because of their chewy texture. I like to toast the oats before adding the boiling water and cooking it all on the lowest setting covered for about 60 minutes in my enameled cast iron pot. Then, for the last 10 min of cooking, I add a bit of milk (dairy or non, your choice) for extra creaminess. PS—I’ll be carrying these beautiful enameled cast iron Dutch ovens from Swiss Diamond Cookware & Kitchenware soon. Keep an eye out! (Ratio for the oatmeal: 1 cut steel cut oats to 3 cups boiling water; add 1 cup milk of choice for the last 10 min of cooking.)

Orange Pound Cake

November 27, 2017

Ingredients:

2 1/3 c self-rising flour

1 stick (1/2 c) unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 c Capay Valley Ranches Blood Orange Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 c sugar

1 tsp vanilla

6 large eggs

Zest of one small orange

Method:

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter and flour a 10-12 c Bundt pan and knocking out excess flour. 

Beat together butter, olive oil, and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Sift in flour; add sugar and vanilla and beat on low until just combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Batter will seem thick. Pour into prepared pan, smoothing too. Knock pan on counter top two or three times. Bake on middle rack of oven until golden brown and tester comes out clean: approx. 40-50 minutes, depending on the oven. Cool cake in pan on rack for about 15 minutes, then invert onto a rack and cool completely.

 

*adapted from Aunt Rose's Pound Cake Recipe in April 2000 issue of Gourmet Magazine

Pumpkin Bread

October 30, 2017

Although I’m not a huge fan of the pumpkin spice, I do love an excuse to make cream cheese frosting—I mean, this moist, lovely pumpkin bread doesn’t really need it, or the mini chocolate chips and butterscotch chips I put in there, but here we are. The original recipe doesn’t have an egg in it so it would work if you are vegan-inclined; when I added an egg to the recipe, it was just a bit moister so there’s that but it’s perfectly good without it. If you’re making a vegan version, just use water instead of buttermilk.


(Makes 2 loaves or 6 mini loaves)

Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 & 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 & 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg grated fresh
1 cup oil
1- 15oz. can cooked pumpkin
2/3 cup buttermilk (or water)
Optional: 
1 egg
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup mini choc chips or butterscotch chips

 

Method:
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugars, baking soda, spices, and salt. Mix in any additions like nuts or chips. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purée, oil, buttermilk (or water), and egg (if using). Add to the dry ingredients and mix well until all incorporated—but don’t overmix! Divide into two prepared loaf pans or 6 mini loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes before checking doneness with a toothpick or cake tester. (Check mini loaves at 30 minutes.) Oven temps can vary quite a bit so checking with s toothpick or cake tester is important. Loaves are done when tester comes out clean. Cool on racks until completely cool and frost with maple cream cheese frosting, if desired. Whether you frost or not, keep your loaves covered or in an air tight container.

Corn and Avocado Summer Salad

June 30, 2017

Inspired by the summer salad that my friend @kagelliott always brings to potlucks and the beautiful cherry tomatoes and fresh corn on the cob at the Sacramento Food Co-op. I grilled some salmon to make a quick and easy meal that won't heat up the kitchen. Grilled chicken or steak would go just as nicely.

Ingredients:

4-6 ears of corn, shucked and cleaned

2 avocados, cubed

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

10-12 basil leaves, chopped rough 

Dressing:

2 Tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 Tablespoon good olive oil

Salt & Pepper

Method:

Grill the corn until slightly charred.

While corn is cooling, whisk ingredients for dressing in the bottom of a large bowl.

 

Add the sliced onions and the rest of the salad ingredients and toss lightly. Cut the kernels from the cobs and add to the salad.

Serve on a bed of lettuce

Plum Jam

June 29, 2017

Home made plum jam. After getting 2 tubs of delicious, perfectly ripe plums from a friend's very productive tree and we ate our fill, there was still a ton of fruit left to make this glorious jam. I used less sugar than suggested because the plums were so sweet and also because I like my plum jam on the tart side. This makes the jam a little runny, but no less delicious. 

 

Ingredients:

4 lbs very ripe plums, cut and quartered, pits removed
1 lb sugar (up to 1 1/2 lbs if plums are not very ripe)
1 Tablespoon pectin (for every 4 lbs of jam)
4 teaspoon calcium water (and really, I sometimes skip this stuff so if you don't have it handy; the pectin needs the calcium to gel up the fruit and if you don't mind your jam a little runny....)

Method:

Combine the plums, sugar, and pectin together and let the mixture macerate, covered, in the fridge over night.

 

The next day, transfer to a large pot, add the calcium water (look at the packaging to see the correct ratio to mix) and cook over medium high heat until the mixture reduces by about a quarter, stirring frequently to prevent burning the jam. This should take about 20-45 min. To check for doneness, place a couple of spoons in the freezer and, when cold, place a bit of the jam on a frozen spoon and return to the freezer for about 5 min. If the mixture is set but not rubbery or too liquid, it's done. You can mill your jam to make a smoother mixture but I like it on the chunky side. At this point, you can pour into your mason jars and stick them in the fridge where they'll be good for about a month. Or you can go through the process of making preserves and canning the jam and keep it as a reminder of the summer when you spoon it on your toast in cold December. Makes a great gift too!

Did I mention it's UH-mazing on ice cream? Especially when it's Gunther's French Vanilla ice cream?

Traditional Scones

June 28, 2017

These are the scones I made for my final pitch to the judges for the #CallingAllDreamers competition yesterday. They are pictured here with an immodest amount of homemade plum jam and smeared with an embarrassing amount of European butter. The recipe is my husband's who is Irish so I guess they are authentic. They are sweetened with just a bit of sugar and golden raisins or currants. (The kids balk at the raisins and I've managed to sometimes replace them with mini chocolate chips but this is a horror to my husband.) My husband is also horrified that I use the food processor to cut in the butter, worrying about the flour becoming too "agitated"; I don't know what he's talking about but I think cutting in the butter this way keeps it cold and makes fast work of the process. I like to add half of the cold butter to the flour mixture and pulse until finely distributed and then add the rest of the butter and process it just until the butter is in pea-sized lumps. He and I both agree you should add the liquid gently and by hand and that you should just work the dough so that it comes together. The result is a lovely, high-risen, buttery but not too sweet vessel for the butter and jam you generously slather on it. Here's the recipe; amounts are in weight as is common in British recipes.

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 425
8 oz self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 oz sugar
3 oz unsalted butter
3 oz dried currants or raisins
About 2/3 cup of butter milk but may need more or less 
1 egg scrambled with 1 teaspoon milk for egg wash

Method:

Mix together flour, salt, sugar, soda; cut in the cold butter, either by hand or in the processor. Transfer to a large bowl if using processor.

Mix in the dried fruit (or mini chocolate chips).

 

Slowly add in buttermilk, starting with 1/4 cup and mix gently with your hands until the dough starts to come together.

Keep adding buttermilk slowly until it just holds together.

Turn out into a lightly floured board and work gently to bring it together. Roll out flat to about 3/4" high.

Cut out in circles with a round biscuit cutter.

 

Place on baking sheet about 1" apart. Brush with the egg wash and bake for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

 

Best served warm with a cup of milky English tea.

Cook's Illustrated Brown Rice

April 07, 2017

How do you cook your brown rice? I found this recipe from Cook's Illustrated a few years ago and have never looked back. Simple, foolproof, and happily makes enough for leftovers that you can turn into fried rice the next night. I like to use @lundbergfarms organic short grain brown rice for its chewy, nutty texture.
 

Ingredients:
3 cups long, medium or short-grain brown rice, washed 
4 2/3 cups water
4 teaspoons butter (optional)
1 teaspoon salt (optional; I add a little at the end of cooking)

 

Method:
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread rice in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and top the rice with 4 pats of butter, if using. 
Boil the liquid and pour over the rice. Cover with double layer of foil and bake in oven for 60 minutes.

Remove from oven and fluff with fork. Re-cover and let stand for another 10 minutes.

Ina Garten Brownies

March 30, 2017

I needed a thank you gift and this rich slab of brownies does the trick. Dense and fudgy with an extra depth because of the instant coffee...it's an instant winner and the recipe is easy. Just don't faint that the first ingredient is 1 lb of butter. The batter fills a whole 12x18 tray so plenty to keep AND share.

From the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

 

Ingredients:

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet.


Method:
Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.

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