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February 2015
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Baking vs. Frying: Egg Rolls

Many, many years ago I tried a recipe that called for baking egg rolls instead of frying them.  The recipe was from Cooking Light magazine, and I just had to try it.  The recipe called for copious amounts of cooking spray- you’d spray the raw, rolled up egg rolls and pop them in the oven to bake.

What I remember about those egg rolls to this day is the awful texture of the wrapper.  It was like eating leather- chewy and not that beautiful crispness that you get from deep fat frying an egg roll.

I don’t make egg rolls often because of that fry factor.  Deep fat frying fills the house with a smell that lasts for days, and in the end, I just find that the expense of the quantity of oil needed to fill such a vat just isn’t worth it.  I might as well stop at my local Chinese place and buy a dozen egg rolls that have been expertly made.

But a couple of years ago I experimented with oven-baked chimichangas where I brushed the whole tortilla with olive oil and popped it in the oven.  That has become a great family favorite here- the tortilla gets deliciously crispy while the filling gets all gooey and cheesy, and every time I make them, I think that I need to try the same method with egg rolls soon.  So last night I did just that.

I made a batch of egg roll filling, and proceeded to fill my wrappers.  For my filling I still use that same Cooking Light recipe from all those years ago- it’s a very good filling and is easy to boot.  My only changes to the recipe as written is that I always use a lot more black pepper than is called for, and I vary the meat I use.  This time it was ground pork- which really makes the best egg rolls, in my opinion.

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Once I had my wrappers filled, I decided to let them sit while I side-by-side tested one egg roll that had been shallow fried in a cast iron pan, and one egg roll that had been bathed in olive oil and baked.  For the shallow fried egg roll I used my organic palm shortening.  I dropped the shortening in the pan and heated it up over medium heat- I wanted a scant  inch of oil in the pan.  For the baked egg roll, I took some olive oil and made a nice puddle on a different cast iron skillet.  I rolled the egg roll around so it was well coated in the olive oil, and then popped it in a 375ºF oven.

The baked egg roll took about 20 minutes to brown up.  After ten minutes I flipped it over in the oven.  The shallow fried egg roll took about 2 minutes- one minute per side of egg roll.  The shallow frying worked better than I’d expected.  One of the things that I thought might happen would be that the egg roll would burst on the half not submerged in the hot oil, but that didn’t happen at all.  My first one actually got a touch dark because I didn’t expect it to cook so quickly.

I waited for both to be done and then set them on a plate side-by-side.  The baked one is the one on top- visually it looks different.  It resembles spring rolls that I get locally at the farmer’s market.  Where the one on the bottom is the fried one, and looks more like I expect a real egg roll to look.

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It was no contest.  Even bathing the whole egg roll in olive oil did not improve the texture much on the baked egg roll.  The outside layer got nice and crispy- it was much better than the cooking spray version.  But the layers underneath were tough and chewy and a touch unpleasant to eat.  The shallow fried egg roll was crispy and delightful the whole way through.

So there you have it.  I was delighted to discover that I could adequately shallow fry the egg rolls- that will put them on the menu more often.  It didn’t take near as much fat as deep frying does, and the house also doesn’t have that familiar smell.  Interestingly, the egg rolls also cooked more quickly shallow frying than I remember from deep frying.  It didn’t take me long at all to have the whole batch fried up and hiding in a 250ºF oven to hold for when the kids were home from dance.  Overall, I’m very pleased with the results of this test.  I’m also very glad I did not experiment by baking up the whole batch.  As it was, we had a delightful dinner that will be repeated very soon.

Egg Roll Filling

3/4 cup diced carrot
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
1/2 pound ground meat (pork, turkey, chicken, beef)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons good quality soy sauce

Put the carrot and celery into the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Add these to the shredded cabbage and set aside.

In a saute pan, add the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for two minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or so.  Add the raw ground meat to the pan. Break up with your spoon and saute with the onion mixture until no pink remains.  Add the salt and pepper.

Last, add the raw vegetables and cook until the cabbage is looking wilted and soft.  Add the soy sauce.  Taste your filling and adjust salt, pepper and soy sauce as desired.

Makes enough filling for about 14 standard sized egg rolls.

 

Happy Birthday Zander!!

Eleven years ago you came into this world and filled my heart near-to-bursting.

iron man zander

Your care and compassion for others is one of my favorite things about you, as well as your enthusiastic spirit to try anything once.   You have a heart of gold- you truly are a Super Hero!

 

Snickerdoodle Blondies

It’s Birth Week here at the Tummy Treasure home, and that means several different variations of birthday treats for the birthday boy.  Zander turns eleven on Tuesday, if you can believe it!  That’s practically a teenager!  On Tuesday he’ll be taking a birthday treat to dance, but since my young man wants to share his birthday treats with pretty much everyone in the studio, he was thoughtful in selecting a large tub of Laffy Taffy to take to share with his friends.   Very nice of him to not ask me to make 100+ birthday treats.  But for church on Sunday, I thought I would make up a batch of Snickerdoodles for him to take.

Then I started thinking about sprinkles, and how they wouldn’t work very well on a snickerdoodle, and that led me to thinking about making a pan of blondies and pressing the sprinkles into the top.  When I asked Zander what he thought, he was very excited.  Snickerdoodles are his favorite cookies, and the Snickerdoodle Blondies are one of his favorite cookie bars.

The dough for these bars is very thick and you’ll need to use your hands to press it into the pan.  Just make sure you set a timer when you put them in the oven.  I forgot with the first pan I made up.  We got involved in a game of Monopoly, AND I also had some hot beef going in a roasting pan, so the smell of beef permeated the whole house.  Of course, I didn’t smell the bars until quite a bit later, and when I pulled them out of the oven… they were not burnt, but they definitely were more like biscotti than a tender cookie bar.

If you love Snickerdoodles, you’ll love these bars.  All that delicious cinnamon flavor without the hassle of rolling the dough into balls and rolling in sugar.  Feel free to add your favorite sprinkles to the top before baking- I lightly pressed my sprinkles in, and most of them stayed on once they were cooled.

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Snickerdoodle Blondies

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cinnamon Topping

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

 

Sift flour, powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture. Spread evenly in a lightly greased 9×13 pan.

Combine the cinnamon and sugar together to make the topping. Sprinkle mixture on top of the batter.

Bake 25-30 minutes.

Cooking Class: Panna Cotta

I have never had a Panna Cotta before.  I admit that a part of it never really appealed to me- a milky flavored gelatin type of dish?  How could that really be good? That was my train of thinking.  So when Abigail chose Panna Cotta as her Italian dessert to make for her cooking class for school, I was prepared to really dislike it.

I have never been so wrong about food before.

First of all, Panna Cotta was one of the easiest things to make.  Abigail started out by measuring her milk into a cooking pot, which she then sprinkled with gelatin.  That sat for five minutes, and while that sat she measured up the cream and the remaining ingredients.  The milk/gelatin mixture was cooked slowly, while stirring, to get the gelatin dissolved, and then everything else was dumped in.  She cooked and stirred for another minute or so, just until we’d felt that the sugar had completely dissolved.  Then it was poured into individual serving containers, and put in the fridge to chill.  It was literally less than 15 minutes of active cook time.  Our only change to the recipe was that we added vanilla at the very end.

Our original recipe is from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis, and calls for fresh berries to top it with.  The berries looked terrible at the grocery store yesterday, so instead we used some frozen berries and made a quick compote to put on top of the Panna Cotta.  We dropped the frozen mixed berries into a pot with 1/2 a cup of sugar and a drizzle of water.  Once we had a bit of liquid in the pot, we also added a cornstarch slurry to thicken it just a touch.  Here is a picture of a Panna Cotta without the berries next to one with the berries added.  It is a pretty unassuming dish.

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But holy wow, this dessert was nothing short of spectacular.  It was not at all what I was expecting- I really was expecting something more firm like a gelatin.  This was not- not at all.  It was luxurious and silky, creamy and light, yet  rich at the same exact time.   I’ve been trying to think what it is like, texture-wise, and the closest thing I can think of is an ultra-smooth cheesecake made from cream cheese.   The berries were the perfect accompaniment to the Panna Cotta, and we were also very glad that we added the vanilla.  It reminded us all of a very good vanilla ice cream- without the icy cold part.

We are now HUGE fans of Panna Cotta, and will most definitely be making this again.  I just can’t get over how easy it was, and I also am sitting here thinking about how delicious it was, and how I wish I could sit down with a massive bowl of it.  So, so good.

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Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries

adapted slightly from Everyday Italian

1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin powder
3 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
2 cups assorted fresh berries

Place the milk in a heavy, small saucepan.  Sprinkle the gelatin over and let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.  After the five minutes, stir over medium heat just until the gelatin dissolves, but the milk does not boil- not quite five minutes.

Add the cream, honey, sugar, and salt and stir until the sugar is dissolved- this took maybe 2 minutes at the most.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Pour the mixture into six dessert glasses, dividing it evenly.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, up to 2 days.

Spoon the berries on top of the panna cotta just before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Perfect Pie Crust

Your Grandma has always been right.  Lard really does make the best pie crust.   After making it a few times now, I can say that I have perfected my recipe, and am now ready to share it.  While I did render my own lard, and I store it in the freezer, you certainly don’t need to go to those measures yourself.  You can actually buy lard at many grocery stores- or at your local butcher if you still have one of those.

Let me tell you what the lard does in this pie crust, and what some of the other ingredients do as well.  I have played with just about every kind of fat trying to get my pie crusts to perfection.   Too many crusts have ended up overly crumbly and difficult to work with, or they end up greasy and still difficult to work with.  With some kinds of fat I couldn’t get the crust to roll thin enough, so then the pie would be over-baked trying to get the crust to bake through.   What the lard does, though, is it makes the dough really nice to work with.  It’s almost like working with a really fresh play-doh.  You know, when you open up a new can for the first time and it’s had no chance to harden at all?  That’s what the lard crust is like.  It also happens to be workable right out of the fridge.  I have had too many times where I’ve made crust, put it in the fridge, and then it’s way too hard to roll out when I want it.

My recipe starts with 3 cups of all-purpose flour.  To this, I add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  The sugar is optional.  If you are going to use this crust for something savory- like a meat pie or quiche, then leave the sugar out.   I mix those things together with a pastry blender, and then add my fats.  I use 6 ounces of lard, or 3/4 of a cup.  I store my lard in the freezer and take it out about an hour before I want it for crust.  When I scoop it out of the jar, it’s usually soft on the outside and firm and hard yet on the inside.  Then I also add 4 tablespoons of chilled butter, cut into pieces.  I use my pastry blender to cut all the lard and the butter into the flour, when it’s all crumbly and integrated, then I add my liquids.

I learned long ago that adding a dash of vinegar to a pie crust will help keep it tender, adding an egg will also do that, so I add both.  Adding them to my pie crust means I can work it a little extra without causing the end product to be tough.   So I crack an egg into a bowl and beat it up.  To the egg I add 1/3 of a cup of ice water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.  Then I add this slurry to my fattened flour.  I use a fork to mix it all together, and once it starts to really come together, I discard the fork and use my hands.  I roll it around and knead it a bit until it’s all come together nicely.

Finally, I take this large ball of dough and divide it into four even pieces.  You’ve just made enough dough for four 9-inch pie crusts.  If you’re using deep dish crusts you’ll want to divide it into three pieces.  I pat each piece into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and then put it in the fridge.  If I’m not going to use them all within a week, I’ll add the discs to a freezer bag and store them in the freezer.  After an hour of resting in the fridge, the dough is ready to be turned into pie.

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Simple Pie Dough

makes enough for 4 9-inch pie crusts

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (omit if using dough for a savory purpose)
3/4 cup lard
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup ice water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon white vinegar

 

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar if using.  Add the lard and the butter.  Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the fat into the flour.  You’ll want to keep cutting until the mixture is even and crumbly.

In a small bowl, combine the ice water, egg and vinegar.  Add this slurry to the flour mixture.  Use a fork to combine it all into a ball- using your hands toward the end.

Divide dough into four pieces and shape the pieces into discs.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour- or up to a week.  The dough can also be frozen indefinitely if placed in a freezer bag.

To use the dough, remove from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface.

Tummy Treasure on Facebook?

Sure, why not.  It might be a very convenient way to follow Tummy Treasure.  When I have a new post here on the Tummy Treasure food blog, I’ll post a photo and a teaser on Facebook.

Tummy Treasure on Facebook

I’m coming up on my ten year anniversary of the blog this year, so I guess it’s time to move into the new century and ramp it up.

Up next, I have to come up with a lighting solution for my photos.  All the lighting in my kitchen gives a yellow cast to my food photos.  I just have to figure out where I can set up a light box where it won’t be in the way in my tiny kitchen.

About Those Cornbread Waffles

In 2014, one of the food blogs I follow, Serious Eats, put everything in a waffle iron.   I am not exaggerating.   They’ve waffled countless sandwiches, stuffing mixtures, desserts, pizza, even tofu.   I want to say they even waffled some noodles, but I’m not sure I’m remembering that correctly.   I’ve never really thought about using my waffle iron for anything other than plain old waffles.  I have a waffle iron with removable plates- one side is waffle, the other side is plain for making grilled cheese or lying flat for pancakes.  You know, I tried making grilled cheese once with the flat plates, and they did not cook evenly at all.  But I never tried doing anything different with the waffle side of the plates.

Until the other day.  I was thinking about Zander and how I could get him to eat more chili than he usually does.  He’s just not a soup/chili/stew eater, and I’ve been trying to correct that.  He’ll eat some, but he always eats more when I have a nice loaf of bread for him to dunk in it.   So I was thinking about the chili verde I was going to make, and somehow my initial plan to make a pan of cornbread turned into wondering if I could take that same cornbread recipe and make it on my waffle iron.  I thought about thick waffle batter, and thought my cornbread batter isn’t all that different.  I couldn’t think of why it wouldn’t work.

I made one small change to my cornbread recipe, and that was that I used a little more oil than called for.  The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of vegetable oil or melted shortening.  I was using palm shortening that I melted, and I decided to use 1/3 cup to make sure the waffles didn’t stick to the iron.   I also changed how I actually made the waffles.  My waffle iron makes one large sheet of four smaller waffles.  It’s probably 12 inches square, but makes small, 6 inch waffles that are all connected.  Normally, I just pile the batter in the middle and then end up with large, roundish waffles.  This time, I took the time to put small dollops of batter on each individual square.  So in the end I had four small round waffles each time I opened the iron.

They turned out great!  It was interesting, because they lost that crumbly cornbread texture, but still had the cornbread flavor.  They turned out slightly crisp and firm, yet tender on the inside.  They were the perfect scooping tool.  Zander ate significantly more chili than he normally would, simply because he could scoop it up and eat it with the waffle.  It was a huge success.  While we used the waffles as a scoop, they could also be used as a base, pouring the chili over the top and then using a fork and knife to eat them.   When we were finished with dinner, we had a few waffles left, and Zander and I enjoyed them smeared with homemade apple butter- wow, if that wasn’t spectacular!

I haven’t put my waffle iron away yet because I’ve been thinking on what else I could put in the waffle iron.  At the moment I have my thoughts centered around a few recipes for cake doughnuts… Doughnut flavor without the fry or the fancy doughnut pan?  Might be worth a try…

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Cornbread Waffles

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted shortening (I used melted palm shortening)

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.  Whisk together until well combined.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then add the milk and vegetable oil.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together only until just combined.

Spoon the batter into your waffle iron, following the directions for your specific iron.

 

Oven Roasted Chili Verde

I don’t know why this never occurred to me before.  I have a fantastic beef stew that I make in the oven, but a batch of chili?

The idea started with a package of pork chops from the freezer.  When we got our pig from the butcher last fall, I had him package all the chops in packages of four.  With four family members, one chop each when I make them, I thought 4 was the ideal package.  Except that more than once, I’ve made a pork dish, and Andy was quite vocal about one pork chop not being enough.   So the next batch of chops I made I pulled out two packages so he could have his fill.  And then he only ate the one chop, so I had four leftover…

Anyway, I pulled out that package of pork chops from the freezer and then thought about what I would do with them that would make four pork chops enough to satisfy us all for dinner.  I had garlic and onions, and a quick search of the pantry revealed one quart of home-canned tomatillos left on the shelf.  I put some dried pinto beans on to cook up, and an idea came to fruition.

What I especially loved about this chili verde was that it was thick and full of flavor. The pork chops, being braised, were not dry in the least, and when I served it up I pulled the bones out and broke up the pork with a fork so it was evenly distributed throughout the chili.  The tomatillos are so good in green chili.  They add a delighful tang and contribute to the texture.  I’m sad that I’ve now used up all of my home-canned tomatillos.  Fortunately, they can be found in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores, so I can but them when the mood strikes to make this again.  This recipe as written makes about 6 servings of green chili.  Most of the cook time was inactive on my part, as it braised away in the oven while I did other things.  I’m sure this could have been done in a crock pot as well, but you still would have to do the browning steps on the stove.

Next time I’ll share about the amazing cornbread waffles I made to accompany this delicious pork chili.

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Oven Roasted Chili Verde

4 bone-in pork chops
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
1 (28 ounce) can tomatillos, drained
1 jalapeno, diced (or 1 tablespoon jalapeno pepper sauce)
1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Sour cream, hot sauce, shredded cheese for serving

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Sprinkle the pork chops liberally with the seasoning salt and pepper.  In a large, oven-safe saute pan, heat the two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the pork chops and brown on both sides.   They will not be cooked through- just browned.  Remove them to a pie plate and set aside.

Add the diced onion to the pan, and stir well to scrape up the browned bits left behind by the pork chops.  Cook and stir for about two minutes, then add the garlic.  Cook for another minute, and then add the beef broth.  Stir well to make sure you have all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan- this contributes a lot of flavor to the dish.

Next, add the tomatillos, and press each one with the back of a spoon to kind of mush them into the broth. As they cook they will completely break up and kind of melt into the broth.  Add the jalapeno, tomatoes, cumin and oregano.  Bring to a boil, and then slide the pork chops back in, making sure they are completely covered.  If they are not covered, add extra beef broth until they are.

Put the lid on the pan and slide into the preheated oven.  Bake for one hour.  At the one hour mark, carefully remove from the oven and give it a stir- the pork chops should be starting to loosen.  Add the pinto beans and stir them in.  Again, make sure the pork is completely submerged in the chili, cover, and slide back into the oven for another 30-45 minutes.  Check the pork chops at 30 minutes.  You should be able to remove the bones completely.  Break up the chops with a fork into bite sized bits.  If you cannot do this yet, put it back into the oven, fifteen minutes at a time until tender.  This may vary depending on how thick your chops are.

Serve the chili when the pork is tender.  Top it with your choice of chili toppings.

 

Brownies with Coconut Oil

The post holiday season usually finds most people tired of sweets and goodies- for me, that actually meant that I threw things out this year.  It seemed that from Thanksgiving to Christmas I was eating pretty constantly. I’d just had enough, and my sweet tooth was out of control! But after two weeks of little to no sugar, when Abigail asked for brownies, I felt that it was okay to make some.  I only made a half-batch, which was just enough for us all to enjoy without the over-indulgence of the previous month.

I made our favorite Mom’s Brownies, adding some peanut butter chips this time for added interest.  But what has me the happiest about these brownies is that it’s a place I’ve learned I can use coconut oil and we all enjoy it.  Coconut oil is extremely good for us to be adding to our diets, but for our family we don’t always enjoy the taste.  When paired with chocolate in a brownie, however, the coconut kind of disappears and the brownies just plain taste like they have some added depth.  Which means they are delicious and chocolatey.

As usual, the brownies were delicious, and we all enjoyed having a small treat to celebrate the end of a great week.

Ah! And look at this, great minds think alike.  Anna at Cookie Madness also has shared a Coconut Oil Brownie this week.

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Mom’s Brownies with Coconut Oil (Half-Batch)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup your choice peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line an 8-inch square pan with non-stick foil or grease well.

In a mixing bowl, combined the coconut oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the salt, baking powder, flour and cocoa powder.  Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until fully combined.  Stir in your choice of chips or nuts.

Bake for 30 minutes.

A New Season With The Best Blueberry Muffins

It’s time to give this blog a little reboot.  I had no idea how much my disfunctional camera was affecting my desire to blog until I started telling Andy the other day.  When I told him I’d ordered my Fire, I confessed that I was hoping the camera was nice.  My old Kodak Easyshare was dropped one too many times.  It had gotten to the point where I would hold the camera and have to take ten pictures in order to get one or two. Most of them were a mis-fire. The camera would take a black, blank picture, and of course this wasn’t an instant process either. Sometimes I’d have to pull the batteries in and out to get it to work as well. All told, it probably took a good ten, fifteen minutes to take one picture. By the time I’d have a photo of dinner, my food would be cold.

And then we’d have the process of getting the photo off the camera and onto my computer. I am not exaggerating when I say that sometimes I would literally be at the computer for a full hour trying to get the camera and the computer to cooperate…for just ONE picture.  By the time that was done I would completely lose interest in discussing said photo.  And food blogging without photos is practically pointless!

But here we are, it’s a brand new day, and I hope a brand new season.  In addition to having new technology, I’ve also been having a bit of fun in the kitchen as of late, and it’s been a shame to not share it.

So I hope you won’t mind if I kick off this new season with a repeat recipe.  One of the hazards of having been blogging for so many years is running out of new things to make.  But when I look at my recipes over the years, those that have stood the test of time deserve to be repeated and featured more than once.  These Blueberry Muffins from King Arthur Flour are just such a recipe. No matter how many blueberry muffin recipes I try, I always come back to this one.  It’s quick and easy,and they taste as good as any bakery muffin.  The key is crushing half a cup of the blueberries- that gives the muffins the bright blue color and flavor throughout. They are tender and absolutely loaded with blueberries. They also happen to be good the next day, should you have one or two extra.

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Classic Blueberry Muffins

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups blueberries- fresh or frozen. If frozen, thaw 1/2 cup
2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar for topping.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium-sized muxjng bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and salt until light. Add the eggs one at a time,beating well after each addition. Add the baking powder, then add the flour alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition. Mash 1/2 cup of theblueberries and add them to the batter. Stir in the vanilla, along with the whole blueberries.

Mound the batter into 12 lightly greased or paper lined muffin cups.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or turbinado sugar, if desired.

Bake the muffins for 30 minutes,or until a cake tester inserted near the middle of one comes out clean.  Remove the muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for five minutes before removing them from the pan.

Makes 12 muffins.

Testing, Testing

I am now the happy owner of a kindle fire, which I’m really hoping will help me blog more.  This is my first post from the fire, so I’m also going to try adding a picture of my new pizza stone…I hope it works!

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Bingo! So much more to come, my friends! So much more… Stay tuned!

Revisiting Artisan Bread

Every once in a while I’ll put together a batch of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  Usually when I do that, I will then go on to make a few batches in succession, and then the interest wanes.  In fact, the last time I had the bucket going, Zander specifically told me that this style of bread was not his preference.  So I finished up the dough I had going and didn’t make it for a while.

Enter Christmas.  Mom gave me a spectacular pan specifically for making baguette style loaves of bread.  It looks similar to this one on Amazon.  I knew the instant I saw it that I was going to whip up a batch of the Artisan bread to try out in this pan.  But first, I needed to make room in my fridge for the dough bucket.  So I purposed to use up leftovers for a while, emptied out a few jam and salsa jars and finally had some room.

The timing couldn’t have been better.  One of the things that Abigail is doing for school this year is cooking.  Once a week she is going to cook a recipe from a cookbook.  The first book I chose for her was Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis, and the first recipe she made was for the simple marinara sauce.  She then had to choose three other recipes that she wanted to make from the book.  One was a ravioli recipe, which she wants to adapt from squash filling to cheese, so I’m looking for a different recipe for her.  But one of the other recipes was for an Italian Egg Sandwich.  Basically it is slices of a hearty artisan style bread topped with the already made marinara, Parmesan cheese and a fresh fried egg.   I pulled out my perforated pan and stretched out two knobs of dough to fit in it.

The first trial didn’t go so well.  I used too much dough and basically had one oddly shaped loaf in the end, as the dough rose over the middle hump of the pan and connected the two batards of dough.  The Italian Egg Sandwiches were still delicious, but I clearly had some work to do on the quantity of dough.  I should also note that the baguette pan is awesome!  It is completely non-stick and I didn’t use a drop of any kind of fat when putting the dough in the pan.  The perforations are also perfect for letting steam in through the bottom of the pan, so you end up with a uniform crispness the whole length of the bread.  Zander suddenly has changed his tune about not preferring the artisan bread.

So today I decided to bake up the remaining dough into baguettes to go with a taco soup dinner.  I eyeballed half of the dough, pulled it out, stretched it out, and prepped it for baking.   I think I figured out the right proportions, what do you think?

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Zander was very excited to see these two perfect baguettes come out of the oven.  When I asked him if he would be willing to eat some with a bowl of soup, he quickly acquiesced.   I think we’re all looking forward to dinner tonight.