July 31, 2016 § 10 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.
May 4, 2016 § 2 Comments
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
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.
Layer apples neatly in pan until almost to the top. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture and lemon zest.
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.
Here’s the original recipe:
October 12, 2014 § 4 Comments
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
November 21, 2013 § 4 Comments
I know Thanksgiving is only a week away and that pumpkin recipes are everywhere, but what the heck. We all love pumpkin something on that day. So here’s one more, an easy recipe for a cake made with healthy ingredients like coconut oil, yogurt and maple syrup. I baked it in a Bundt pan but you could easily make it in a square pan or even make cupcakes if you wanted. I also used spelt flour instead of all purpose so if you want your cake to rise a little more you might want to use the all purpose.
Ingredients for Cake:
1 cup white spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (try to use freshly grated, makes a big difference)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup melted unrefined coconut oil
3/4 cup yogurt or pure cream
1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan or 8 in. square pan.
Melt the coconut oil, put in large bowl and add sugar. Whisk until well combined. Add eggs, whisk again.
Mix in the pumpkin puree and yogurt until well blended.
Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a separate bowl then add to pumpkin mixture. Mix well.
Stir in pecans, then pour into your pan. Bake about 45 to 55 minutes for Bundt pan, about 25 to 30 minutes for square pan. Always check for doneness a little before as oven temps vary. Test with knife or toothpick until it comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting.
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Beat all together with hand mixer until nice and creamy, then sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Happy Thanksgiving in case I don’t get to my next post before then!
September 19, 2013 § 6 Comments
Apple season is here and that means the end of summer, but I’m ok with that. Though I’m not at all ready for the cold weather that’s coming, I’m definitely ready to put the garden to bed, having had my fill of tomatoes, zucchini and most summer vegetables. I’m ready now for turnips, acorn squash and hearty stews and soups.
I love baking with apples and here’s an easy one-bowl recipe you can have ready in under an hour. It’s delicious warm from the oven, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or cooled and cut into bars.
1 cup flour, I used white spelt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup peeled. chopped apples ( cut into smallish pieces, about 1/2 in or so)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8 x 8 x 2 in baking dish.
In a saucepan, melt butter then remove from heat.
Add sugar, egg and vanilla and mix well with wooden spoon.
Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, apples and nuts. Mix well.
Spread batter (it will be thick) into the greased baking dish.
Bake about 30 minutes, test with toothpick, especially around the apples.
Either dig in right away, top with vanilla ice cream, or cool and cut into bars, dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
February 5, 2013 § 9 Comments
There’s something so comforting about poundcake don’t you think? A big, thick slice, eaten plain or spread with sweet preserves, it’s perfect with your afternoon tea. I think it’s the butter, you can’t make a really good one without it, and the better the butter, the better the cake. Everything’s better with butter, it’s true.
Pound Cake is a actually a British creation that dates back to the early 1700s, though I’m sure similar cakes were made in other countries as well. It’s name comes from the fact that the original pound cakes contained one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Pretty simple.
It’s an easy cake to whip up whenever your sweet tooth acts up, and you can vary it in so many ways. I grew up eating marble poundcake, made by taking some of the batter and mixing in some good melted chocolate before you bake it. You could also add dried fruit, or orange or lemon zest. Substitute almond extract for the vanilla, or add dried coconut, crystalized ginger and of course nuts like walnuts or pecans are delicious also.
In this recipe, I sautéed an apple in a little butter and folded it in at the end. You could try pears, blueberries, pretty much anything. If you want to skip the sugar, use maple syrup (1/2 the amount of sugar) and skip the vanilla.
If you can, get some really good butter for this, it makes a difference.
For the apples:
Melt about 1 1/2 TBL of butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add 1 peeled, cored apple , cut into slices. I like Empire. Cook until almost soft, 5 or 6 minutes. Set aside and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with butter and dust with flour.
For the batter:
6 TBL good quality butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour, I use spelt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
about 1/2 cup milk
Mix the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl.
In a larger bowl, beat the sugar and butter until light, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat another minute or two.
Now add the flour alternately with the milk and beat well after each addition.
Continue beating another minute or so until smooth.
Add the apples and gently fold them in with a rubber spatula.
Transfer to the loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 to 55 minutes. Test until toothpick comes out clean. Cake should be a nice golden color.
Cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely before cutting. It will crumble if you don’t wait!
This recipe was featured in the Huffington Post Taste section!
Here’s the link.
July 8, 2012 § 7 Comments
I love berries! And my garden is full of them. Once they get going it’s a picking frenzy I’m on. Currants, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. I used to have strawberries too, until the chipmunks took over. But I will have them again, I am fighting back. But that will be another post.
The currants are ripe now, so are the gooseberries. Raspberries and blueberries are starting too, I can pick a pint a day now and then it’ll be quarts a day!
Berries are so luscious on their own, mixed together with nothing but some thick, raw cream on top. I like to preserve them too so I make jam, jelly, sauces and put them in smoothies. Of course I have to bake with them and this is my go-to recipe for a delicious afternoon treat.
The original recipe came from the Hay Day Country Market, a gourmet food store that opened in Westport, Connecticut in the 1980’s. It was the first of it’s kind back then, a farm stand originally. They were the first to provide local fruits and vegetables, homemade breads, jams and even flowers. In Westport at the time this was quite a hit. Martha Stewart lived there also and the rest is history as they say!
I’ve changed the recipe a little, used maple syrup instead of the sugar and white spelt flour instead of regular wheat. I like spelt flour because it has less gluten and is one of the original grains, non-hybridized like regular wheat. It’s easier to digest and some people with gluten sensitivities can eat it without a problem. I do all my baking with it.
You can use so many different toppings for this cake. I mixed red currants, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries in this. In the fall, you could make it with apples, pears or plums. Or use them all together. Change the spices too. Cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg are great flavors to try. Mint and pears are a good combination…..you get the idea.
And don’t forget the whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
1 cup white spelt flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter (8 Tbl)
1/4 cup maple syrup or 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 cups fruit
Butter an 8 or 9 inch cake pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
You’ll need an electric mixer for this to really cream the butter and sugar/maple syrup together. Cream about 2 minutes. Add eggs and mix well, then add the vanilla and zest. If you use maple syrup the batter may separate a bit, don’t worry. It won’t if you use sugar.
I never sift my flour, baking powder and salt when I bake. I just measure it and put it right into the creamed mixture. It all gets mixed together well so why the extra step? Works for me, but if you want, you can sift them and then add it. Mix well and pour into the prepared pan.
Put the berries on top evenly, you might want to press them down a little into the batter too. The batter will rise up and cover them a little bit.
And bake for about 25 to 35 minutes. The edges will be browned and you know the toothpick test, make sure it comes out dry when you test the middle of the cake.
I think once you make this and see how easy and delicious it is, it’ll be your go-to cake too. Enjoy!
illustration by me
May 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word rhubarb? Probably strawberry rhubarb pie, or rhubarb cobbler or rhubarb jam.
I think Spring, it’s finally here!
As soon as winter has loosened it’s grip I start checking for it. And then I can’t wait until the red stalks are big enough so I can pick some and start cooking all kinds of delicious things with it. Rhubarb needs sweetening, quite a lot, as it’s really too tart on it’s own. I like to use maple syrup, it works well in muffins, cakes, pies, and it’s particularly good with rhubarb.
Rhubarb is another one of those foods you either love or hate. I don’t know why one would hate it, maybe it’s the tart flavor? But if you love it there are so many things you can do with it. I make a delicious rhubarb chutney that’s great with meats and on sandwiches. And rhubarb clafouti is a an easy dessert you can whip up at a moment’s notice. (will post these recipes soon) My friend Priscilla said her grandmother stewed some every spring and called it her ‘spring tonic’. Rhubarb does have a lot of vitamins and minerals, calcium among them.
I got my rhubarb from a friend a long time ago, and it’s getting to be that time where I should divide it. It’s easy to do and good for the plant. Just take a shovel and cut into the crown, go deep, then replant the new piece. Rhubarb’s pretty tough, and can be almost impossible to remove completely. If you do grow your own, a reminder: it’s leaves are poisonous. (Could that be the reason rhubarb haters? ) They’re good in the compost pile though, I cut mine right in the garden and throw them in. And don’t cut the stalks with a knife, just grab a hold towards the bottom and give it a firm yank, it’ll break at the right spot.
You can keep rhubarb in the fridge for a few days before it starts to break down and get mushy. It freezes well, just cut the stalks into chunks, about 1 inch or so in length, put on cookie sheet, pop into freezer and when solid, seal in freezer bags.
The first rhubarb thing I made with my new batch this year was this delicious rhubarb bread. It’s very moist and great toasted with butter, in the morning with coffee or a snack anytime. After a day or so, keep it in the fridge, if it lasts that long.
1/2 cup maple syrup or 1 cup sugar
6 Tbl butter, melted ( I used 3 butter and 3 coconut oil)
1/2 cup yogurt, or you can use sour cream
2 Tbls fresh orange juice
zest of one orange (organic preferably)
2 1/2 cups flour (white spelt is what I always use)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups diced rhubarb
What you do:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Melt the butter and coconut oil, if using. While it’s melting, whisk the maple syrup (or sugar) and egg together until nicely blended. Then add the melted butter/oil, then the yogurt/sour cream, orange juice and zest.
Mix the flour, baking soda, salt together in a separate bowl and add this to the liquid ingredients.
Stir in the rhubarb. The batter will be thick, this is ok as the rhubarb will release some juice into it as it cooks.
Put batter into a greased and floured 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Bake about 50 to 65 minutes, check after 50. Test with toothpick or knife to make sure it’s done.
Cool this before you cut into it or it will crumble away.
You could add some nuts to this, chopped hazelnuts are really good. Just sprinkle some on top before you put it in the oven. You could also add some cinnamon, nutmeg, even a little grated ginger to the batter. Rhubarb goes well with all these.
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!