Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Apple Pecan Muffins

If you really want to know, I'm a lazy baker, and the lazy baker recycled this recipe.  If you look at it and say "Hey what happened to the pictures?" I apparently hit the limit on my pictures for Blogger and Google said, "You can buy more space." Somebody is always trying to sell me something and honestly I often resent it, so instead, I cut photos here and there.  So if they are missing from a past post, this is the reason. I blame my inner cheapskate.

Speaking of cutting back, for the muffins this week, I cut back on the sugar, added a bit more flour and changed the spices.  Presto!  Now I have a muffin recipe instead of a cake recipe.

If you like a recipe, find ways to reuse it.  Like this recipe last week, this is an old trusted recipe.

This cake is a great way to use up apples and we have lots to choose from in the Northwest.  Apple season is just getting going and new varieties appear every week.

If you like apples, it can be way too easy to buy too many.

As I was shopping I thought about getting a poem written by one of the poets who types poems at the market.  

The sign says: "Your Topic, Your Price."  The cheap card tables and no frills look--I love it but I wonder how they'll do come winter.

Trip, a market poet

I wanted a poem about dogs. More specifically Basset hounds.

I couldn't pick just one dog since I've lived with eight hounds and I have loved them all. I asked Trip to write a poem about basset hounds because--well, if you're reading this blog, you probably know why.

This is my poem:

I like this poem enough to frame it. 

I'm thinking of getting one about a certain pit bull named Coco.  
You might say Coco is my granddog.

She's a food gazer too.

For this recipe, use any apples you want.  

Don't forget the nuts.  The recipe lists pecans, but use walnuts if you have them.

My favorite part is the crispy top.  

Apple-Pecan Muffins
(Makes 12 muffins)
I used Cox Pippin apples for these muffins, but you can use any variety you like.  These muffins are delicate with lots of baked apples and a crisp exterior.  Enjoy them for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.  You can substitute cinnamon for the cardamom.
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 1/4 cups flour (unbleached or hard wheat works better than whole wheat pastry flour)

1 egg or egg replacer*
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups washed, diced sweet-tart apples (no need to peel)
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

1. Oil 12 muffin tins. Preheat oven to 350F.  Sift together cardamom, baking powder, soda and flour.  Set aside.

2. Whisk egg or egg replacer until frothy.  Add oil, then brown sugar and apples, making sure all apples are coated with egg and brown sugar mixture.  Stir flour mixture and pecans into the apple mixture.  Spoon into muffin tins.

3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool.  Then run a knife around the edges to loosen and gently tip out onto a cooling rack.

Anytime is a good time for these apple muffins.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever

I cleaned out a desk this past week and came across a box of old recipes. I sorted perused the possibilities that I wanted to try again.  I had about 10 in the running, but until I went to the farmers market I had no idea what would inspire me.

At the market, I was selecting baby eggplants when I spotted flour and bread at the farm booth.  I'd never bought anything from this farm and I think it is relatively new to the U-District Farmers Market as  not many farmers grow and sell wheat and flour for the market. 

I picked up a loaf and when the young farmer said, I grow the wheat and potatoes and make the bread myself, I was sold.

My Cooking Assistant is an easy sell too.  The bread was delicious and with the weather turning cooler  these days, I wanted to make the cinnamon roll recipe I'd found.  How many years had it been?

I remember the day I got this recipe from my friend Jules when I lived just south of Bellingham, Washington decades ago.  I envied Jules because she made everything from scratch--pizza, pie crust, and cinnmon rolls. I got many of my classic recipes from Jules.

The more stains on a recipe card or page, the better the recipe is, or so my mother says. I remember making these rolls for Mom when she came to visit years ago.  She loved them, but she always preferred walnuts to raisins.  You can add either or both to this recipe.

If you use local flour, make sure it is hard wheat not whole wheat pastry flour.  You need enough gluten in the flour for these rolls to rise.

If you knead by hand, you can never over-knead it.  You can knead and knead again.  I love kneading and I love stretching out the amount of time devoted to rising.  Kneading bread dough is like playing with play dough, only better because you get to eat the end product.

Punch it down, let it rise and do it again.  Make sure no drafts hit the dough while it is rising.

Spread a layer of sweet cinnamon-sugar and butter or Earth Balance spread over the dough, roll it up and let them rise again.  Freeze some of the rolls and enjoy them all week long if you want.

Here's Jules's recipe:

The Best Cinnamon Rolls
(Makes about 10 rolls)

1 package yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk (dairy, soy, rice or almond)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups unbleached white flour (or mixed)
1 tablespoon shortening (oil or butter will also work)

1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins, currants, cherries or chopped walnuts or pecans

Dissolve yearst in warm water and milk.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes while mixture bubbles up. Stir in sugar and salt.  Add flour and shortening and mix until a dough forms.  Knead on a lightly floured board  for about 10 minutes. Form into a round ball. Dough should be smooth.

Cover with a wet dish towel or an oiled piece of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.  Punch it down, knead it again and let it rise for about 30 minutes or until a finger poked into it leaves and indentation.  

Place the ingredients for the filling, except the nuts and raisins, in a bowl and mash them together.  Stir in the nuts and raisings.  After the dough rises a second time, punch it down and flatten the dough, stretching out out to a large rectangl--about 18 by 12.  

Spread the filling over the dough, then roll the dough, lengthwise. Roll as tightly as you can and when done, pinch the edges together.  Slice 3/4 to 1-inch rolls.  Set on parchment paper and cover with a wet tea towel or oiled plastic wrap.

Preheat oven to 350F.  When rolls have doubled in size, remove wrap and bake for 25 minutes or longer.  Remove entire length of parchment paper from pan and cool rolls on cooling rack.

It's so gratifying to have these rolls loved by everyone.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Black Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad on Full Plate Thursday

I was just thinking about black beans and corn when I found out this recipe was featured on Miz Helen's Country Cottage.

Whether you're thinking about black beans or blueberries, this is a great place to check out every week for great recipe ideas.  Lots of people contribute recipes.  You may even find a new food blog or two to follow.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Apple Romaine Salad with Lavender Honey Vinaigrette

The end of summer, doesn't have to mean the end of salads.  Crisp tart apples and sweet pears and later winter squash and even cranberries all make excellent additions to fall salads. 

The idea for another salad occurred to me when I spread lavender honey on a warm biscuit one morning and thought: what else can I do with this fantastic honey?  I had found lavender honey at the Hillsdale Farmers Market, just a few weeks ago. If you can't make it to Oregon,  try making your own lavender honey by adding a bit of crushed culinary lavender to wildflower honey.

Lavender season is over anyway, for the most part, but you can always use dried lavender for culinary purposes. Remember to always confirm that you've got culinary lavender because some lavender varieties are too strong for kitchen uses.

We usually have a lot of lavender in the pantry.  I wasn't always so fond of this herb but  this little cookbook teased my interest. It was written by my wonderful friend Kathy Gehrt who passed away last spring.  Every time I inhale the fragrance I think of Kathy, whose infectious love of lavender converted many who had no idea how versatile this herb could be.

Kathy Gehrt at Sky Nursery in 2011

I wasn't sure what else to put in the salad until I spotted Pink Pearl apples at the market on Saturday.  Yes, it's apple season.  I love when the weather turns cool, days are cloudy, and rain is on the schedule more often.

Someone else likes fall too.

Apples and pears make perfect transitional fruit.  My Cooking Assistant can't get enough apples.  He sometimes finds school kid's discards.  Mothers: do more shopping at farmers markets and more fruit will get eaten.

My Cooking Assistant is not afraid to let me know when he's been short-changed in the local food department.

Pink Pearl apples are pink inside.  The name fits. They're a perfect blend of tart and sweet.  

I don't think they are sold in stores, so check your farmers market.  Pink Pearl apples make salads more fun.

My favorite vinegar comes from Rockridge Orchards.  These are the old style of bottles.  The newer bottles have clamp-on lids.  It's all good from Rockridge Orchards.

You don't need much oil, just enough to make the dressing cling to the lettuce leaves.

If you can't find Pink Pearls, use your favorite variety of apples. That is the beauty of salads--you can always make it your way. For an easy whole meal add chunks of marinated tofu, or garbanzo beans.

Apples and Greens with Lavender-Honey Vinaigrette
(Serves 4 to 6)

1 to 1 1/2 cups diced apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups torn lettuce
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup diced carrots, cauliflower or celery
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lavender honey (or use plain honey with 1/2 teaspoon crushed lavender buds)
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado, seed removed and diced
1/4 cup pistaschos, cashews or chopped pecans

1. Combine apples and lemon juice.  Set aside.  In a medium mixing bowl combine lettuce, onions, and cauliflower.  Gently mix.

2. Whisk together cider vinegar, lavender honey, garlic, and mustard in a small bowl.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste.  Mix avocado into the dressing.  Just before serving mix apples into salad and gently toss the dressing and avocados into the mix.

3. Top with pistaschos before serving.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Black Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad

My recipe this week, Black Bean Salad, is an ode to the end of summer.

WIth the bounty of market vegetables, it's hard to pick favorites as the seasons overlap. Beans, corn, tomatoes, eggplant and stone fruits are being replaced by apples, pears, hearty greens and winter squash. Grab your fading summer favorites while you can. 

I skipped a week of posting recipes because my friend from Arizona was here, and I went to Portland and Victoria, British Columbia.

The hounds weren't in agreement about our so-called vacation. They stayed home.

They didn't make it easy to leave.

My friend spent a week on the Oregon coast and I drove to Portland to meet her.  The drive isn't so long if I listen to a book and I listened to this great mystery on the way down.  

We drove to the Columbia River Gorge not expecting the huge traffic jam, but apparently everyone in Portland had the same idea of seeing the waterfalls before summer ends.

When we finally saw the view, it was amazing.

The next day we visited the Hillsdale Farmers' Market before heading back to Seattle.

Wood-fired bagels and the best ever longanberry preserves.

What good is a wood-fired bagel without Ayers Creek loganberry jam?

I barely got all the berries in the freezer before we were off to British Columbia.

We drove to Port Angeles and caught the ferry to Victoria.  So many choices for which route to take--clipper ship, Anacortes ferry, BC ferry and by air.  Since I haven't been that many times I chose the Port Angeles route, which I seriously underestimated the time it took to get from Kingston to Port Angeles, but we made it.  

The ferry coming into Victoria early in the morning.

A trip to Victoria usually involves a trip to Buschart Gardens

The gardens were lovely but the best part for me was the street art.  Check out this art find along the marina walkway.  Check out the link and read the story behind this art.

All this sightseeing made me hungry.  So when we got back, we feasted on artichokes, green beans, tomatoes and corn.

Here is an easy, end-of-summer whole meal salad that doesn't require any cooking at all.

Black bean, Corn and Tomato Salad 
(Serves 4 to 6)

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 ears of corn, corn removed from husks
1/2 cup small dice red pepper
1/2 cup small dice sweet onion
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 cups Romaine lettuce
1/2 avocado, diced
Broken tortilla chips (optional)

1. Place beans, corn, red pepper and onion in a mixing bowl.  Stir to blend and set aside.  In a small bowl combine lime juice, apple cider vinegar, sugar, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, garlic and jalapeno in a bowl.  Whisk to blend and stir into the bean and corn salad.  

2. Gently blend in tomatoes.  Layer beans and corn over Romaine lettuce.  Top with avocado and tortilla chips, if desired.

A perfect end to a long busy Northwest weekend.

This salad is fit to be a meal with or without tortilla chips.  I like to serve them on the side.

I know a hound or two who are really happy dinner is served on time.