Savory Ham Scones with Cheddar and Sage

October 28, 2014 § 5 Comments

 

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It started last evening, a nice warm autumn drizzle which then turned into a whole day of downpours. What I would call a soup day, and I had everything I needed to make my Cabbage, Ham and Potato Soup. So that’s what I did, and as the soup simmered away, I pondered what to do with a little bit of extra ham I had leftover. So since I always have some good Vermont cheddar in the fridge, I came up with this: a savory scone, to slather with butter, to have for breakfast or with breakfast, to grab as a quick snack or just have with that bowl of soup.

It’s a basic recipe and you can easily change the ingredients depending on your mood or what you have in your kitchen. Here’s a few ideas:

Bacon and Onion: cook enough chopped bacon to measure about 3/4 cup, sauté 1/2 minced onion until soft

Apple and Cheddar: a classic, use 1 cup peeled, chopped apple and 1 cup grated cheddar

Sun dried Tomato and Goat Cheese: chop 1 cup drained sun dried tomato and add with about 1 cup crumbled goat cheese

Olive and Pine Nut: chop about 1 cup olives finely, then add 1/2 cup pine nuts at the end

You can change the herbs, try thyme, oregano or lavender, add some sautéed mushrooms, substitute different cheeses (crumbled bleu would be delicious) the list is pretty endless.

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Basic Recipe:

2 cups flour, I use organic white spelt

1 TBL baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 – 2 TBL fresh chopped sage or 3/4 tsp crumbled dried

1 tsp sugar

6 TBL cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese

1 cup chopped ham

1 egg, beaten

about 1/4 cup heavy cream

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment.

Combine the dry ingredients, including the sage.

Cut in the butter until it resembles small peas, with either your fingers or a pastry cutter.

Add the ham and cheese and stir.

Beat the egg and cream together and add to dry ingredients. Mix well with a fork.

Knead it all together right in the bowl, if it seems a bit dry add a little more cream until it holds together. You don’t want to overwork it, just a few kneads will do.

Pat out on a floured surface and shape into a 7″ disk, about 3/4″ thick.

Transfer to your baking sheet, then using a knife, cut it into 8 wedges, like a pie.

Separate the wedges a bit, then brush with a bit of cream to give it a nice golden crust.

Bake about 18 to 22 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool right on the cookie sheet.

 

These are best served warm, and if by some miracle you have any left over the next day, wrap in foil and heat in a 300 degree oven about 15 minutes.

Makes 8 scones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pear Cobbler

October 12, 2014 § 4 Comments

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As much as I hate to see summer go, part of me is glad. It’s the part that weeds and waters the gardens, deadheads the flowers, cans the fruit and picks the endless supply of blueberries.

I don’t want that to sound like a complaint, but those who have large gardens understand I’m sure. And there is also the part that likes the changes of the seasons, the soups and stews, and the smell of the wood stove.

 

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Today started off a beautiful warm, sunny day. Then the clouds rolled in, and it got a bit chilly! I grabbed a sweater and decided a cobbler would be perfect for the afternoon’s coffee break. I had some pears that I meant to use in a salad and were calling to me, “use us now or else!”

The recipe uses fresh mint, which I love to use in baking. It’s from a recipe I’ve had for many, many years, from Lee Bailey’s cookbook Country Weekends. I usually change things a bit when following a recipe, always cutting down the amount of sugar, or using maple syrup instead, adding a spice or two, and substituting spelt or Einkorn flour for the all purpose flour most recipes use.

You can also make this with apples and add a handful of raisins and some cinnamon. So now that cobbler weather is here, bake yourself one, and serve with sweetened whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or just grab a spoon and have it for breakfast.

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Fruit Part:

6 large pears, I used Bartlett

juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

2 TBL maple syrup

1/4 tsp powdered ginger

grating of fresh nutmeg

1 tsp chopped fresh mint

Batter:

1 cup all purpose flour, I use organic white spelt

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup milk or almond milk

2 TBL unsalted butter, melted

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 9″ovenproof pie dish.

Peel and core the pears, then cut into medium size chunks.

Pour lemon juice over the pears, then add the zest. Mix.

Combine spices, maple syrup and mint, add to the pears and put in pie dish.

 

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Make batter by mixing flour, baking powder and salt.

In separate bowl beat egg yolks with milk and maple syrup, then add to flour mixture.

Mix in the butter then drop onto the fruit. Bake about 30 to 35 minutes, making sure the middle is done by lifting a piece of pear and checking.

 

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Cheesy Tomato Pie

August 12, 2014 § 1 Comment

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The time we have all been waiting for has come. Summer tomatoes are here! My favorite way to eat them is the famous tomato sandwich- sliced thickly, sprinkled with a good flaky sea salt, homemade mayo on sourdough bread.

But one can only eat so many tomato sandwiches.

So besides making quarts of sauce and salsa and watching them sit on my counter I thought I’d put them into a pie, a savory, cheesy, quiche-like pie. Now you could easily buy a ready made pie crust and just put the ingredients in, but if you know me, I can’t do that. It just doesn’t taste the same. But that’s just me. Don’t let that stop you from making this, it’s easy and delicious and even better the next day.

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You probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen: flour, butter, cheddar, eggs, mayonnaise and those tomatoes. You can stick with this simple recipe or doctor it up a bit, adding some bacon or ham, chunks of sausage, or even change the cheese. Try goat or feta as long as you keep the basic tomato thing going.

It’s great for lunch, brunch or even a light dinner with a salad and some sautéed zucchini, another one of those vegetables you can’t eat fast enough.

Ingredients for Crust:

2 cups flour, I use white spelt

1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup ice water

Ingredients for filling:

4 large tomatoes

2 cups grated cheddar

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 eggs, beaten

fresh basil leaves, about 1/2 cup, julienned

a little salt and pepper to taste

 

Mix flour and salt together, then add the butter and cut in with your fingers, or put in food processor and pulse a few times until the butter is the size of peas. Add the ice water until the dough just holds together, press into a ball, flatten and refrigerate at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

When you’re ready, roll out the dough then press into a 9″ pie dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes while you mix cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.

While you’re waiting for the crust in the oven, cut the tomatoes into slices, not too thin, put into a colander, then sprinkle with salt to let the water drain out. About 10 minutes or so will do.

Pat the tomato slices dry, then place on top of pre baked crust.

Top with the basil, then spread the cheese/egg mixture over all.

Bake about 25 minutes until nice and brown.

Try to wait before cutting into this, it’s best served lukewarm.

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Scrambled Egg Muffins

July 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

 

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Breakfast can be a challenge for me sometimes. I have a piece of bacon or sausage and some fruit, like melon, or a bowl of strawberries with some fresh cream poured over, and a cup of coffee. In winter it’s usually oatmeal, again with fruit, maple syrup and cream. Of course eggs are in there too, but today I got tired of the over-easy version and got a little creative.

I love a muffin in the morning, but I try to avoid flour if I can. And I’m not a fan of gluten free flours really, I don’t think some of the substitutes are all that healthy…. so this is basically an egg beaten with salt and pepper and poured into a muffin tin. Pretty simple!

I added quite a few things to the “recipe”- whatever I had in the fridge really….leftover broccoli, chopped kale, a few cherry tomatoes and of course cheese. Gotta have cheese – pretty much on everything!

So give these a try, they are great for anytime you want a snack, packed in lunch boxes and for traveling, and of course breakfast, still warm from the oven.

Here’s the “recipe”

12 eggs, one for each muffin cup

salt and pepper

vegetables, either left over of fresh

goat cheese, cheddar, feta, Parmesan-as much or little as you like-I used a heaping TBL on top of each one.

Pine nuts or any type of seed, sesame or pumpkin, etc.

Minced garlic, fresh herbs

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with paper liners.

Beat the eggs. If you’re making different kinds, I suggest separating some of the eggs into different bowls for the different ingredients ( like 2 eggs with kale and cheddar, and 2 eggs with tomatoes, broccoli and goat cheese, etc. I find it easier to pour into the cups this way). Or just beat them all at once, then add the veggies.

Add salt and pepper to taste, remembering if you add cheese it may be salty already.

Add the veggies, then sprinkle on the cheese and seeds, etc.

Pour into muffin tin and bake about 30 minutes until knife inserted comes out clean.

And that’s it. You can get creative here, of course, add some cooked bacon, a little cooked sausage, some sun dried tomatoes, herbs, pretty much anything goes!

 

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Making your own Nut Butters

June 12, 2014 § 2 Comments

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It’s pretty much the easiest thing in the world to do. Put nuts in food processor and turn on.

You’ll know exactly what’s in it, and what’s not: bad things like hydrogenated oils, sugar, (do we really need sugar in everything?) and preservatives. And organic nut butters are expensive I’m sure you know!

It would be a good thing if people started making foods like this from scratch. Picking up a jar of peanut butter from the store is easier, sure, but seriously, home cooking is where health starts. Do we really not have that extra 10 minutes? Besides, there is something rewarding about taking a batch of nuts and turning them into smooth and creamy butter. Really, it’s true. Only 3 requirements: a food processor, some nuts and time. Usually about 10 minutes from start to finish, depending on your food processor. You could make this in a Vitamix too, I don’t have one so I’ve never tried it.

And the taste is so fresh, and much “nuttier” is how I would describe it.

Here are a few “recipes” to get you started!

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Basic Peanut Butter

 

Take 3 cups roasted, unsalted organic* peanuts and put in food processor. Use the steel blade.

Start processing. After a minute or so, stop engine and scrape. Resume.

Nuts will go through several stages, from coarsely ground, to finely ground, to clumpy.

You may have to scrape the sides occasionally, then keep going and you’ll see it start to turn creamy.

After about 3 to 4 minutes you’ll have the best, smoothest, nuttiest peanut butter you’ve ever tasted!

If you want it a bit chunkier, add a few peanuts at the end.

Almond Butter

3 cups raw organic almonds

1/2 tsp sea salt

Process as above, adding salt at the end

 

Coconut Almond Cashew Butter

1 cup almonds

1 cup cashews

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1 to 2 TBL melted coconut oil

Add all nuts and coconut flakes to food processor and process until nuts turn creamy, scraping down sides occasionally. Add coconut oil at the end.

 

Store all in refrigerator when done.

You can roast the nuts in all these butters, to concentrate the nutty flavor. A 300 degree oven for 10 minutes on a cookie sheet. Let cool before processing. Try adding some extras, like chocolate chips, coconut flakes, cinnamon, a little bit of maple syrup or honey, raisins. Add at the end and stir in with a spoon.

And experiment with different nut combinations too. Throw a few peanuts into the almond butter, or pistachios into the peanut butter. Or try sunflower or pumpkin seeds stirred in for an extra flavor and nutritional boost. You really will wonder why you haven’t been doing this all along!

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*peanuts are one of the most carcinogenic and pesticide laden things you can eat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhubarb Mania

June 1, 2014 § 2 Comments

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You know spring is on it’s way when you see the gnarly leaves of the rhubarb plant emerge from the dirt. There’s no stopping it once it starts, the leaves getting bigger and bigger until the flower pops up in the middle.

Rhubarb, a perennial, is a very hardy plant that thrives in the cold northern regions. Every old farmstead likely has a rhubarb patch somewhere, having been made into pies and sauces for the family get togethers through the years and still going strong.

It doesn’t require much care, producing ruby red stalks for decades each spring. Every few years you can divide the plant and either start a new patch or pass it on to a gardening friend or family member. There’s only one important point you must know, in case you don’t already, and that is that the leaves are highly poisonous. I just cut the leaves off right in the garden and add them to the compost pile.

Rhubarb will keep for about a week in the fridge, but I find it easiest to just go out and pick some when I need it. You can freeze it, but not very well in my opinion, kind of turns to mush.

Here are  a few recipes using rhubarb. One is for scones, one for chutney, and one for a syrup. And don’t forget the Rhubarb Clafouti!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Scones

3 cups flour, I use white spelt

1/2 cup organic sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup chopped rhubarb

1 cup sliced strawberries

 

Line a baking sheet with parchment or grease lightly.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients together.

Add the butter pieces and work into the flour mixture with your fingers or a fork until you have pea sized pieces throughout.

Add buttermilk and fruit and stir gently with a fork until combined. don’t overwork or they’ll be tough. The dough will be on the moist side.

Lightly flour the baking sheet and pat out the dough, making a circle about 10 inches wide.

Cut into even pieces, like a pizza. You can sprinkle with a little extra sugar if you like.

Bake about 18 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned.

 

Rhubarb Raisin Chutney

 

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This chutney is great on sandwiches, like ham or roast pork. It also makes a nice glaze for pork tenderloin, chops or fish.

 

2 1/2 cups roughly chopped rhubarb

1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup golden raisins

 

In a medium sized pot combine maple syrup, vinegar, onion, coriander, ginger, mustard and salt. Bring to a boil, then cook for about 5 minutes, uncovered.

Add the rhubarb and raisins and continue cooking, simmering actually, another 15 minutes or so, until rhubarb is softened. You don’t want mush here, so keep an eye on it.

Remove from the heat, then taste for sweetness, adding more maple syrup if you’d like.

Makes about 2 cups.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup

This is a delicious syrup you can drizzle over vanilla ice cream or pound cake. Use instead of maple syrup on pancakes or french toast. It’s also great mixed with a little sparking water and a splash of vodka. Ok, maybe more than a splash.

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1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 cup sliced strawberries

3/4 cup sugar, organic preferably organic

1 cup water

 

In saucepan, combine all ingredients.

Bring to a boil and cook about 15 minutes until rhubarb is soft.

Put through a fine mesh strainer to separate pulp. You can either discard it or mix it with butter or cream cheese and spread on a bagel. Stir it into oatmeal or yogurt with some nuts for breakfast. Yum.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

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Gluten Free Nut Muffins

May 9, 2014 § 1 Comment

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Many, many years ago I found a book called “Food and the Gut Reaction” by Elaine Gottschall. I’m sure many of you have heard of this book. It contains diet and nutritional information to help people with serious intestinal issues such as Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and the like. Back then diet was not even considered for these illnesses, and really most allopathic doctors still think that way today.

Although no one in my family had any of these illnesses, the book supplied valuable information and helped me on my quest to understand the body. It also had many healthy recipes, one of them these delicious nut muffins. When I want to avoid gluten for awhile, which I think is a good idea, I make these.

Here’s the basic recipe and some variations. Just put it all in the food processor, no other bowls needed. You can use almost any nut, walnuts, almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts. I use 3/4 almonds and 1/4 hazelnuts because I love hazelnuts!

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin liners or grease.

2 1/2 cups ground nuts (2 cups whole nuts equals about 2 1/2 cups ground)

1/4 cup melted butter ( I use half butter and half melted coconut oil) you can use yogurt also

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup more or less as desired ( you might need to heat the honey to liquify it a bit)

1 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

3 eggs

 

Put nuts in food processor and grind until very fine. Add all other ingredients, adding the melted butter last according to how much liquid you need to get the batter to a muffin consistency.

Batter can look a little runny but it’s ok.

 

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Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling about 1/2 full.

Bake about 15 to 20 minutes until tester comes out clean. They won’t rise like regular gluten muffins just so you know.

 

Here are the variations:

Add 1/4 cup raisins

Juice and rind of one orange

Substitute dried, unsweetened coconut for part of the nut flour

1 mashed banana

And you can make nut bread by adding an extra egg and bake in greased loaf pan.

 

These are great spread with peanut butter!

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Makes 12 muffins, usually

 

 

 

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