Friday, February 28, 2014

It's a sloppy and droopy, orange marmalade kind of day.
If you have one orange, a food chopper of some kind, a microwave, and a few minutes, whip up some of the quickest, easiest orange marmalade around.
It's good :). 


Saturday, February 22, 2014


Sadly, I must report this lovely, lovely loaf as a fail.
The pinches of dough I snuck before baking were fantastic.  It contains two sticks of butter -- I KNOW! -- why wouldn't it be fantastic?
But the finished product, I am sorry to have to report, did this when sliced:
I think that's at least four crumbles it broke into.
And it kind of tasted like pie crust.
Turns out there is such a thing as too much butter.
Making this Italian Christmas bread was an excuse, truth be told, to play with this:

Which just looked so intriguing at the grocery store.  And which I still have a vat of.
But not to worry. 
The quest for delectable panettone carries forth.  I shall not give up the fight.  Soldier on.

Anyone out there ever made panettone?  Results?  Please share.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine's Day Dessert Soup

If you had foresight enough back in November to stash away a bag or two of cranberries in your freezer, you have most of what you need to make this light Valentine's Day dessert.  Called kissel, this tart and tasty Russian fruit soup is the loveliest shade of red.
Along with the cranberries, it also helps if you have one of these:
Not sure what the official name of this is.  A food mill?  It's the same perforated cone-like thing I use when making tomato juice from fresh tomatoes, or grape juice from grapes.  Very low-tech, it whooshes out the unwanted skins as you circle the wooden mallet round and round.  Great fun.  Kahuna's grandma gave me this one years ago, after teaching me to make tomato juice.

If you've got your cranberries and your perforated upside down dunce cap, proceed.  And if you don't?  Type "kissel dessert" into your handy dandy search engine and I'm pretty sure you'll find instructions for making this from other kinds of fruit. 

The recipe, by the way, comes from A Christmas Companion by Maria Robbins and Jim Charlton, who suggest its red color makes it "particularly appealing at Christmastime."  And also for Valentine's Day, I might add.

1 lb. cranberries
2 c. water
1 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
2 T. orange juice
Heavy cream for swirling, if desired

In large saucepan, heat the cranberries, water, and sugar.  Bring to a gentle boil and, stirring occasionally, cook for about 15 minutes, until cranberries pop.  Puree through a food mill.  Return puree to the pan.  In small bowl, mix together cornstarch and orange juice; add to puree and cook over low heat, stirring, for about five minutes, until it gets thick.  Serve chilled with heavy cream swirled throughout.  Serves 6 - 8.

What are you serving for Valentine's Day?


Monday, February 3, 2014

Best Biscuits Ever

Serious yumminess has been coming out of my oven lately.
Yes, that would be my new oven.  (Protagonist sighs happily here.)
These may be the finest biscuits I've ever made.  And no wonder -- they contain cream.  HEAVY cream.  (Protagonist adjusts her slightly ill-fitting waistband here.)
This recipe came from a Martha Stewart magazine.  I was going to just link to it from here, but the various instructions I found online were slightly different from the directions in the printed magazine, and I have a few changes/comments of my own.  So I think for clarity's sake I shall just type it in here, adding my own comments as we go.
Ready?  Begin.
(By the way, I divided this recipe in half.  Using my 2 1/4-inch cookie cutter, it still made 11 biscuits)
4 c. flour, plus more for work surface
2 T. baking powder
2 t. sugar (next time I will double this amount)
1 t. coarse salt
1 c. (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into pieces (Martha uses unsalted; I like salted)
2 c. heavy cream (the reason I cut the recipe in half -- I had just a small carton of cream)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Cut the butter into small pieces and drop into flour mixture.  Using tips of fingers, rub butter into flour mixture until butter is dispersed and texture resembles large breadcrumbs. 

Add the cream and stir until dough just comes together.  (Martha says dough will be sticky but mine was quite dry.  I kneaded it in the bowl just a bit to get it to come to a ball.  I suppose another option would be to add a tad more cream [or milk, if you're out of cream] but what I did worked fine.) 

Transfer to a lightly floured surface (I use my large cutting board), pat to 1-inch thickness, and use a round cookie cutter to cut out your happy little biscuits.  Place an inch or two apart on cookie sheet that's covered with parchment paper and bake about 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
Yeah.  Like the "light butter" is really gonna help.
NOTE: I baked these on the second to highest rack, but after consulting my wonderful baking reference book Baking Illustrated by the editors of Cook's Illustrated, next time I would bake these on the middle rack instead. 


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Homemade Cereal

I have wanted to try making homemade granola for a while now.  Kahuna is big into walking these days, and I am big into making homemade treats that will give him good fuel.
Which is how I came to make this recipe, unearthed from the depths of my file cabinet (remember file cabinets?), where it has resided since 1982 when I first clipped it out of a local newspaper. 
Remember local newspapers? 
Originally published under the title "Helene's Homemade Cereal," I wasn't sure if this actually qualified as granola.  But I googled all things Wikipedia, where I was assured that it does. 
This cereal contains oatmeal and walnuts and apples and wheat germ and coconut and raisins.  Oh my.  So far we've been eating it with milk, just like regular cereal, but I'm thinking it could bake up into fine little bars.  Or get mixed in with yogurt; maybe with a few blueberries added.  You get the drift.
I'm storing it in a large plastic container in the fridge because it contains diced apples.  While the apples do dry out in the oven, they don't dehydrate completely. 
So here's the recipe.  And then I want to know:
Do you ever make homemade cereal?  Please share.

Oatmeal Coconut Apple Cereal

5 c. oats
1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts
2 c. flaked coconut
2 c. chopped apples (about 3 apples)
1/2 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter
1 c. raisins

Get out as large a baking pan as you have; cover bottom with foil.  Spread oats in the pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  In large bowl, stir together the nuts, coconut, apples, wheat germ, sugar, and cinnamon.  Add the nut/coconut mixture to the toasted oatmeal, drizzle the butter over all and mix gently. Put back in 350-degree oven and bake about 35 or 40 minutes, stirring gently whenever you think about it.  Remove from oven, let cool a bit, put into large bowl and add the raisins.  When cool, put in a closed container and refrigerate.  Wonderful served with milk and eaten with a spoon.