July 31, 2016 § 8 Comments
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
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
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.
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.
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.
June 12, 2014 § 2 Comments
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!
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.
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!
*peanuts are one of the most carcinogenic and pesticide laden things you can eat
January 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
I woke up today to a gray sky and saw the white branches. Oh-oh…snow. Luckily not too much.
I know many say why live in Vermont if you don’t like snow? Well I used to like snow, but this year for some reason I want to fast forward to spring. And I know I shouldn’t wish the time away, it was my New Year’s resolution after all. Maybe I just need some extra Vitamin D, or a SAD lamp, or a vacation in the islands. Yes, I think that would do it. Anyone?
Short of that, I decided to bake. Something quick and healthy to eat while looking out at the tundra. So I made these date bars. They’re cooling right now so I’ll put the coffee on while I write this.
2 cups chopped and pitted dates, I used Medjool
1/4 cup water
2 TBL maple syrup
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup flour, I use white spelt
1 cup oats
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8″ baking dish.
Combine dates, water and maple syrup in saucepan. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Beat butter and sugar with a mixer about 2 to 3 minutes until well combined.
Add flour, oats, baking soda and salt to the butter mixture and stir well to combine. It will be crumbly.
Take 2 cups of the oat mixture and press into the baking dish.
Top with the date mixturecs and spread evenly over all. It will seem thin but its very sweet.
Add the chopped walnuts to the remaining oat mixture, then sprinkle this over the dates.
Bake about 20 to 30 minutes until brown.
Let cool a bit before cutting in if you can help it. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted slightly from Cooking Light.
May 11, 2012 § 2 Comments
Who doesn’t love a muffin? Fresh out of the oven, with a big pat of fresh butter and a steaming cup of coffee, muffins are at the top of the comfort food list for me. I love muffins and think nothing of making a batch even before I have my morning coffee. They’re easy to whip up if you have all the ingredients, which are pretty basic, then when they’re in the oven baking, put on that pot of coffee or tea. The best part of the day!
You can get creative when making muffins. I have one basic recipe that I use for any kind, blueberry, banana, rhubarb, apple cinnamon. You can mix and match so to speak, as well. Make blueberry banana, rhubarb apple, raspberry peach, add some nuts, raisins, spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. It’s quite endless the combinations you can come up with. Wouldn’t you love to have one right now?
I’ve substituted maple syrup for the sugar that most recipes call for and you can do the same, just use half the amount of maple syrup instead of the sugar. I don’t use honey for muffins, it’s got a distinct flavor that can overwhelm the others. But feel free to try it, again, use half.
Maple syrup and honey are nature’s creation, full of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. And they’re much sweeter than sugar so you don’t use as much. I also try and fit coconut oil into my diet so when a recipe calls for melted butter or vegetable oil (bad stuff!) I use it.
I find muffins, and most baked goods so ridiculously sweet! All you can taste is the sugar, and we all know to stay away from too much of it. When I see a recipe that I’d like to try, the first thing I do is cut the sugar in half, and that’s still sweet!
So here’s what you need to make yourself a delicious treat, for breakfast, afternoon or midnight snack.
My Basic Recipe:
2 cups flour (I use white spelt)
1 TBL baking powder
1/2 tsp good salt
1/4 cup maple syrup (if you must use sugar use 1/2 cup)
2 large eggs
3 TBL melted butter and 3 TBL melted coconut oil (or use 6 TBL melted butter)
1/2 cup milk or cream
fruit such as blueberries, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, apples, between 1 to 2 cups
Oven set to 400 degrees.
Grease muffin tin or use paper liners.
Mix together the dry ingredients (this includes spices). Separately mix the wet ingredients, eggs included.
Mix these two together briefly, don’t overbeat or they’ll be tough. Now’s the time to add in your fruit and nuts if using. Gently fold them in and fill the muffin cups about half full.
I bake them at 400 degrees anywhere between 18 to 25 minutes. Check them after 18 with a toothpick, it should come out clean.
Some other great things to add:
lemon zest, so good with blueberries, orange zest
walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds
raisins, dried cherries, chopped dates
shredded coconut, fresh or chopped crystallized ginger
Carrot and zucchini, mixed with nuts are delicious, think carrot cake and zucchini bread.
You generally need about 1 to 2 cups of fruit/vegetable to 2 cups flour. Spices like cinnamon, use 1/2 tsp per 2 cups flour as well. Nuts, only about 1/2 to 1/3 cup. Fresh ginger is potent, so I’d use about 1/4 tsp freshly grated and 2 to 3 TBL chopped crystallized, unless you like it very gingery. Lemon and orange zest use 1 tsp or so. These are suggestions really, you could certainly add more of any of these.
Now time to put on the coffee!