Blueberry Lemon Hand Pies

July 31, 2016 § 8 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.

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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

 

Carrot Parsnip Fritters and Outsmarting the Chipmunks

May 25, 2015 § 3 Comments

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So sorry that I’ve been absent for awhile. The weather has been absolutely beautiful these past weeks and I’ve spent every waking moment outside….getting the veggie garden prepped, pulling up a weed here and there, edging and mulching, and just walking around, breathing in Lily of the Valley, Lilac and Viburnum.

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I’ve done some major garden renovations this spring. I finally have some raised beds, and one of them has become my strawberry bed. The chipmunk population around here will be in for a surprise. I’m sure they’ve had their beady little eyes on the flowering strawberry plants, just waiting for the first red, ripe and juicy organic strawberry…. sorry critters.

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As you can see this is chipmunk proof!  I’m very excited, I think I have them beat!  There is nothing like growing your own strawberries, picking and popping them straight into your mouth….just like the chipmunks!

Now if I could do the same for my blueberry bushes.

On to the recipe….

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Fritters. Yes, so simple and easy, I wonder why I don’t make them more often. They can be a side dish, a part of a salad, breakfast or even dinner.

Fritters:

6 medium carrots 

3 medium size parsnips

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

3 eggs, beaten

3 TBL flour

1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper

olive oli for sautéing

Peel and grate the carrots and parsnips. You could do this in a food processor, but it’s so easy to do by hand. You won’t have to clean all that equipment. And it’s good for the biceps.

Add the shallot, garlic, flour, eggs, salt and pepper.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add a scoop of the carrot parsnip mixture and flatten.

Cook a few minutes over medium heat, turn and continue to cook until golden brown. Remove to a warm place, like your oven.

Serve with applesauce, or mix plain yogurt or sour cream with a little cumin, paprika or za’atar. Try adding some chopped parsley or cilantro, sprinkle with sesame seeds….

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Rhubarb Mania

June 1, 2014 § 4 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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Moroccan Chicken Thighs

June 12, 2013 § 5 Comments

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What do you buy when you’re in a hurry but still want a good, tasty dinner? Pizza? Fish? Hamburgers? Prepared dinner?

I buy chicken thighs. Easy, delicious and inexpensive. They cook really fast in a hot oven and you can do a million things with thighs. You can barbecue, roast, saute and season with nothing but salt and papper and they’re delicious. Put over fresh pasta or roast in oven with some sliced potatoes and your meal is done. Bone-in thighs of course, there’s so much flavor in those bones.

I usually just throw them into a cast iron skillet with lots of  whole garlic cloves, some cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs like oregano or thyme and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. I don’t brown them first either, just put them into a preheated 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes. Then add fresh Parmesan grated on top when they’re done.

After eating them this way so often I thought it time for a change. So here’s a new favorite recipe. This isn’t quite as quick, but wow is it good. And even better the next day if there’s any left.

Ingredients:

Chicken thighs, bone in, about 8 to 10

oil for sautéing

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion

1 heaping tsp minced, peeled fresh ginger

2 tsp minced garlic

2 to 3 cups good chicken stock

salt and pepper

Spices:

1/2 TBl ground coriander

1 TBL ground cumin

1 TBL paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)

Feel free to increase these spices if you’re in love with any of them.

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Preheat oven to 375. Season thighs with a good amount of salt and pepper. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat and when hot, brown the chicken pieces on both sides then remove to a plate.

Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook until soft, just a few minutes. Add the garlic and all the spices, then stir them together until well mixed.

Return chicken to the pan, turning to coat them with the spice mixture.

Pour the chicken stock over all, you want the thighs partially submerged. Bring to a boil, then cover and put in oven.

Braise about 30 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs. Uncover for the last 10 minutes or so and you’ll get a little bit of crispy skin.

 

This is delicious served over noodles, like pappardelle, couscous or just as is with a big salad and some crusty bread to soak up all that great sauce.

Serves 4.

Adapted from Food 52.

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Some pictures of my gardens, the poppies escaped the rain and were beautiful this year. And a watercolor I did of them:

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