Blueberry Lemon Hand Pies

July 31, 2016 § 6 Comments

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We’ve had a great spring and summer so far here in Vermont. Not too much rain but that doesn’t seem to bother the blueberries. I’ve been picking my weighted down bushes non stop for a few weeks now. Besides freezing them I’ve made lots of muffins and scones, but wanted to do something a little different with my latest score.

Food and Wine recently had this hand pie recipe and they looked so delicious I had to try them. The recipe is quite easy though I added a few tips as you’re assembling them. I also substituted half white spelt flour and half Einkorn flour for the all purpose. And I had to add some lemon zest because blueberries and lemon zest are a match made in heaven. Try a bowl of berries with sweetened whipped cream sprinkled with lemon zest for dessert one night. Sublime!

So if you find yourself with some blueberries on a rainy Sunday and get the urge to bake, try these.

Blueberry Hand Pies

Dough

2 cups all purpose flour or 1/2 white spelt, 1/2 Einkorn flour

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup ice water

Filling

2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup sugar ( I used a little less)

2 TBL flour

2 TBL fresh lemon juice

grated lemon zest

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp water

Turbinado suger for sprinkling or vanilla sugar

Make the dough:

Whisk flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea sizes pieces of butter remaining.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in the egg yolk and water until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth. Cut the dough in half and shape into 2 disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate about an hour until chilled.

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Make filling:

In medium bowl, toss the blueberries with sugar, flour, lemon juice, zest, salt and cinnamon.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disk of dough to a 16 x 9 in rectangle. Approximately. I didn’t get it quite that size. Dough should be about 1/8” thick. Use a 4 in. floured cookie cutter, plate or even a glass to cut out 8 rounds from the dough. I didn’t get 8, only 7 so don’t worry about that either.

Spoon 2 TBL of the filling into the center of each round and fold the dough over.

Tip: After you fold the dough over, push the berries down a bit so they’re evenly spread out. Using the tines of a fork, seal the edges.

Tip: Each one takes a few minutes so while you fill them, put the other cut outs back in the fridge to keep cold. You want to keep the butter cold.

Transfer as you make them to a parchment lined baking sheet, about 1 in apart and put in fridge. Chill about 30 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush the hand pies with the beaten egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake about 15 to 18 minutes until nice and golden. Some of the juice will spill out.

Let cool a little, then dig in!

You can freeze these unbaked and pop in oven 25 minutes before serving.

Makes 14 to 16.

Farmhouse Apple Pie Cake

May 4, 2016 § 2 Comments

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Although I’ve tried, I just can’t garden when it’s been raining for 5 days. Even with rain gear on I turn into a cold, muddy mess. You gardeners out there know how hard it is to stay out of the garden once spring has arrived!

So it’s to the kitchen I go. There’s a big bag of apples in my fridge that need to be used so I decided on this great recipe that a friend had sent me. It’s become one of my favorites now. As usual I substituted some of the ingredients for healthier ones and cut down the sugar by half. That’s something I do automatically now, things are way too sweet these days don’t you think?

The original recipe calls for vegetable oil and I never use that now. Instead I used healthy coconut oil and butter and added some lemon zest too.

Farmhouse Apple Pie Cake

6 to 8 Granny Smith apples ( I used half Empire)

1 TBL sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon for topping

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 tsp vanilla extract

zest from a large organic lemon

1 1/2 cup flour (I used Einkorn. White spelt or regular all purpose flour is fine too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 or 10 in. springform pan.

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Layer apples neatly in pan until almost to the top. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture and lemon zest.

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Mix batter by beating eggs and sugar until thick and fluffy. Add the melted oil, butter and vanilla. Mix well then add flour and beat all together.

Pour over the apples, then tap the pan on the counter so the batter gets to the bottom.

Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes, checking as you get to the end of the baking time by testing with skewer, it should be dry.

Cool completely in the pan. This is important as the cake will fall apart if you try to remove it while it’s warm.

Serve with really good vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. And it’s even better the next day after everything settles and melds together.

Happy spring!

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Here’s the original recipe:

Einkorn Apple Walnut Crumble

February 5, 2016 § 6 Comments

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Some of you may be familiar with Einkorn, and some may be thinking “What kind of crumble?”

For those of you not familiar with it, Einkorn is nature’s original wheat. It is the only wheat out there that hasn’t been hybridized, which allows many gluten intolerant people to eat it without experiencing the sometimes severe reactions they have to “regular” wheat.

Although neither I or Kevin have a gluten sensitivity, we do feel better not eating it. So I had switched to spelt flour when baking. Spelt has less gluten but what really appealed to me was that Einkorn hasn’t been messed with. It is the same wheat now as it has been for thousands of years. So it’s what I bake and cook with now all the time.

That said, baking with it can be a challenge sometimes. I highly recommend Carla Bartolucci’s book Einkorn. The owner of Jovial Foods, Carla has worked out how to cook and bake with Einkorn flour. The recipes are delicious and easy to follow.

Hopefully I didn’t scare you away from trying it. I simply substitute Einkorn flour for regular wheat flour and the results have worked out just fine. If you’re going to try bread I suggest following Carla’s recipes.

Here’s a simple recipe to try. I used Empire apples, MacIntosh would work well also, you want a softer apple as the baking time is short and you want the apples to soften into a applesauce consistency.

Apple Part

3 to 4 large apple, peeled, cored and cut into medium size chunks

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 TBL unsalted butter

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix all together and place in greased pie dish

Crumble Part

6 TBL unsalted butter

2/3 cup Einkorn all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 TBL milk or cream

2 to 3 TBL chopped walnuts

Cut butter into flour with either your hands or a Dough and Pastry Blender, add sugar, then add the milk. Blend it all together with a fork then spread it over the apples. Sprinkle with the walnuts.

Bake in a 350 degree oven and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until lightly brown and bubbly.

Serve warm with freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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This is great for breakfast!

 

Roasted Fennel Soup

January 18, 2016 § 2 Comments

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Hello everyone, sorry for the absence! Here it is the middle of January already. The days are flying by no matter how hard I try to live in the moment and all that.

I had a lot of recipes I was planning on writing about today but these days it’s all about soup. I find soup making so easy that I’ve always got a big pot of something going. Even a cup of steaming chicken broth helps take the chill off. Sometimes I’ll toss in some fresh parsley or add some of last nights veggies but usually it’s just plain broth.

Always on the lookout for soup ingredients I came home with 2 nice large fennel bulbs. I love fennel when it’s cooked. Raw not so much. A bit overpowering for me. Sambuca, no thank you.

When you cook fennel aka anise, it’s strong flavor mellows and becomes almost sweet. I like roasting it, cut into chunks, alongside root vegetables in a hot oven, tossed with just olive oil and salt and pepper. Or cut in half and tucked under a whole chicken or pork roast. This gratin, made with cream and garlic is my absolute favorite way to eat it.

So back to soup. Simple being my motto, how to make a simple fennel soup? Cut it up, toss with some onions and olive oil and roast. When done, add some stock then puree. Add some cream if you wish. And that is it. Almost doesn’t need a recipe it’s so easy.

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Ingredients:

1 large fennel bulb, fronds cut off and hard core removed

1 large onion

2 to 3 TBL olive oil

1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper

about 3 1/2 cups vegetable, beef or chicken stock

orange zest, fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a baking pan. I like to use one with sides, keeps the vegetables a bit moister I find.

Coarsely chop the fennel and onion. Toss with the  olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast between 30 and 45 minutes until very tender, tossing occasionally.

When the vegetables are done put them into a good size pot and add the stock. Bring to a boil, the simmer 10 to 15 minutes to meld the flavors.

Pour about 1/4 of this into a blender or food processor. Be very careful when pureeing hot liquids, only do small amounts at a time and cover the top with a kitchen towel. Puree for 10 seconds each time to really break up the vegetables and give it a creamy consistency.

Pour it all back into the soup pot. If you’re a cream lover like me you can now add some fresh heavy cream or half and half. Doesn’t need much, maybe a few tablespoons. Taste for seasoning.

To finish, grate a little orange zest on top and sprinkle with some fresh thyme leaves. Toast a good hearty piece of bread, topped with a slice of gruyere or cheddar and once it’s in your bowl (ovenproof) place under the broiler for a few seconds. Keep your eyes on it, it can burn quickly. Or just grate some cheese on top if you don’t want the bread.

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Happy Winter!

My Garden and German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalad)

September 4, 2015 § 3 Comments

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Anyone who gardens knows what I mean when I say it’s my sanctuary. It’s the first place I go to when I get home from a trip and the last place I visit before I go in for the night. I go through the gate and everything else that’s been on my mind is left behind. Before I know it three hours have flown by.

It’s a special place, alive with birds, toads, bees, and I’m sure plant spirits and faeries turning sunlight, rain and dirt into flowers and vegetables magically overnight.

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I’ll be in the middle of weeding when I feel the sunflowers beckoning. I’ll stop to have a look at them and see that the finches and chickadees have been busy working on the huge heads. I love watching them flit around, going from one to another, like their own buffet table. I’ll leave about half for them and the rest I’ll dry and feed to the chickens.

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I’m not a very neat gardener I think you’d say. I know I should have pulled out that tomato seedling that sprouted up from last year, right in the path. But I didn’t and so now I have to step over it and soon won’t even be able to do that. There are poppies everywhere, and again, right in the path. I even saved an elderberry sprout that flew into the garden somehow (faerie probably) and it’s now a small tree near the back. Oh well!

And my garden this year is the best one ever. Each day I bring up a basket of tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce and cucumbers. So many cucumbers! I juice them, make pickles and salads and add them to water. I slice them in half and give the chickens a treat too.

One of my favorite salads is one my mother always made, Gurkensalad. She didn’t really have a recipe, but this is how I make it now.

4 cucumbers, peeled

1/2 small red onion, sliced thin

1 TBL red wine vinegar

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp sugar

salt and pepper

1 to 2 tsp caraway seeds (optional but really good)

paprika for garnish

After you peel the cucumbers, slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. I use a melon baller for this.

Using a mandolin, slice them. A food processor works or if you don’t have one, just slice as thinly as possible. Even if they break apart, it’s ok, you don’t want big chunks for this salad.

Put slices into a colander, salt them well. About 1 TBL salt will do it. Let sit about a half hour.

While they’re draining, in a separate bowl, mix the dressing by combing sour cream, vinegar, red onion, sugar, a dash of pepper. Set aside.

After at least a half hour, grab a large bowl, then take a handful of cucumbers at a time and squeeze as much water as you can out of them, then put them into the bowl. (Don’t rinse the cucumbers by the way)

Add the dressing and mix well. Taste for seasoning. You’ll need a little more salt. Add the caraway seeds, mix then dust with sweet paprika.

Chill for at least an hour before serving. This is a very refreshing salad that gets better the longer it sits. I’ll make a ton of it and grab a bowl as a snack. Enjoy!

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Bees, Flowers, Berries and Cream.

August 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

 

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I was sitting outside on my patio and watching the bees furiously going from flower to flower. I noticed a pattern, they would alight on a flower and then leave immediately. Off to another flower, and then the same thing. The flowers didn’t seem to interest them. There was nothing there for them.

The flowers they spent a lot of time on were the old fashioned ones. Foxgloves, hollyhocks, old fashioned roses.

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As beautiful as the others were, the ones I bought at the nursery because they had the most beautiful cascade of blooms, the bees wanted nothing to do with them. Same with the hummingbirds. The blooms were beautiful but sterile. It disturbed me and I thought about that for awhile.

It’s the same with our food….beautiful specimens of peaches but with no taste. Red ripe tomatoes that taste like cardboard. And that means there’s nothing there for our nourishment…..like the canary in the coal mine, the bees are telling us to beware.

Luckily more and more people are realizing that eating healthy is really pretty simple. I just read that McDonald’s is closing a lot of it’s “restaurants”, a good sign for the organic and healthy food movement.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts for the day. Now on to dessert.

My currants, blueberries and raspberries are all ripening at the same time, at least enough to get a big bowlful for dessert tonight. You can make this with pretty much any fruit that’s really summer ripe, try the farm stands and farmers markets.

Take a handful of berries, I like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and add them to a sauté pan with a little butter and honey. Mash some of them, either with a fork or potato masher. Warm them just a little, you’re not cooking them, just melding the flavors together. Scoop onto individual plates and pour some really good cream over them. I grated a little lemon zest over them too. It’s delicious, gluten and sugar free and couldn’t be easier. And healthier!

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Rhubarb BBQ Sauce

June 1, 2015 § 3 Comments

 

 

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Rhubarb time again and what haven’t I tried to make with it?

Rhubarb is one of the first things to pop out of the ground in the spring and then I’m on to making scones, muffins and all kinds of desserts and baked things. This year I wanted to do something savory with it again. I’ve made Rhubarb Chutney before, the recipe is here on my blog, and I’ve added it to a pan sauce to spoon over chicken. I’ve got so much rhubarb that it’s time to try something new again.

My rhubarb patch is turning into a monster. I might have to divide and move it this fall as it’s right in the middle of my garden. When I planted it originally the garden was very small and it sat at the edge, but now it’s really in the way. It stares at me every time I visit the garden and calls out “please use me!”

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So I being one who likes homemade as much as possible decided to give Rhubarb BBQ sauce a try. The combination of the tart fruit (although it is technically a vegetable) mixed into the dark and smoky flavors of the sauce just might be delicious enough to eat with a spoon.

Besides eating it out of the jar, slather it on grilled chicken, ribs and vegetables too. Try grilling eggplant and basting with sauce.  Use as a replacement for ketchup on a burger. Try it on sandwiches too, or mixed into baked beans.

So if you’ve got your own patch or even if you don’t, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

6 stalks rhubarb, cleaned and trimmed and chopped

3/4 cup water

2 large shallots, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups ketchup ( organic and without HFCS* if possible)

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 TBL molasses

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 TBLS  mustard

1 TBL Tabasco

1 tsp Liquid Smoke (this is good stuff)

 

First, simmer the chopped rhubarb in the water until soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat a small amount of olive oil, add the shallots and garlic and sauté a few minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil slowly. Reduce heat and continue simmering until sauce is thick and dark, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Let cool, then add the cooked rhubarb to it.

This sauce will be a little chunky, so if you like your BBQ sauce smooth just puree in food processor a few seconds.

Makes about 4 cups and will keep for months in the fridge.

 

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* High Fructose Corn Syrup

 

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