Saturday, February 23, 2013

Orange~Pistachio Biscotti

I'm Irish...and this Italian twice-baked cookie got a spring-green look with the help of pistachios and pistachio paste...
and a little orange to honor the Republic of Ireland Flag!
photo borrowed from internet 
I realized St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner and I will be making soda bread and colcannon, but sometimes it's nice to add something new.  Biscotti is a great choice. This long-lasting cookie has grown in popularity among coffee drinkers here in the United States and has even surpassed their original use of dipping into a glass of wine.

Orange~Pistachio Biscotti
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Zest of one orange
2 T. Pistachio Paste 
You will need to stir the paste when you first open it! 
1 3/4 cups + 2T King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and pistachio paste together.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the dry ingredients and beat just until combine--don't over mix!

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board.
Bring dough together and divide in half.  Roll out to about 12-14" long x 1 1/2" wide.
Bake in preheat oven about 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool about 10 minutes.  Transfer "log" to a cutting board and with a serrated knife, cut slices on an angle, about 1" thick.

Place sliced cookies back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 13 to 15 minutes.  Removed from the oven and allow to cool once more before storing.
I had a perfectly wonderful day at The Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle and even more perfect to come home, have a cup of tea, and a biscotti.  
What traditions for St. Patrick's Day do you have? Enjoy! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sundae Social Cookies

Did you know, that one of the stories surrounding the Sundae, actually claims that it was a dessert developed to counteract the so-called Blue Laws forbidding ice cream and ice cream sodas on Sunday!  The druggists added chocolate syrup over ice cream and gave it a different name.  Furthermore, the spelling was changed so not to offend religious conventions.  There are several cities throughout the United States that claims the first sundae--1881 to 1891; but all I know is that it is a sweet treat and has with it a memory of spending time with my mother.

Farrell's was an ice cream shop we frequented in Springfield, Virginia whenever we went to the mall.  My mother loved the "Triple Threat," which was vanilla ice cream that came with three containers of hot fudge to pour over it.  I have to say, I miss those sundaes and have never had anything else like them.  The cookie I came up with today pays homage to that sundae--chocolate, roasted peanuts...with a cherry on top:-D

Sundae Social Cookies

3/4 cup + 2T (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 T heavy cream
1 T vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts, chopped
1 cup maraschino cherries, quartered
Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together, thoroughly.  Add the egg, vanilla and heavy cream and beat once again. 

Whisk together the dry ingredients and add to the batter.  While the mixer is running, add the chocolate chips, peanuts and cherries and mix well.

Scoop cookie dough with a 1/4-cup scoop, spacing the cookies apart about 2 inches for spreading. 
Use your fingertips to press dough down slightly

Bake in preheated oven 12 to 14 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool 5 minutes, then, transfer to a rack to cool completely.

As much as hot fudge sundaes are my favorite, my hubby and daughter, Erin, love butterscotch (or caramel) so feel free to substitute the bittersweet chips for butterscotch chips.  What is your favorite sundae? Enjoy!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake

In the latest issue of Bon Appetit, under the section "Sweet Comforts" was a recipe that enticed me today--Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake.  I've had a love affair with buttermilk since the first time I baked with my mother.  Biscuits, pancakes, Irish Soda Bread, German's Chocolate Cake, etc. all had this wonderful dairy product that I continue to use in my baked goods.

Buttermilk and cultured buttermilk are two different things; the first is the liquid left behind when butter is churned from cream and the later, is what we bake with today.  Cultured buttermilk used in the United States, as well as, in India, Pakistan, Middle East, Germany, Poland, Scandinavia and the Netherlands, is a fermented dairy product of cows milk that has been left in a warm place to produce lactic acid bacteria.  It's thicker than milk and produces a "richness" to anything that is baked with it.

My mother used to drink a glass of buttermilk, almost daily and I've done it occasionally--it's an acquired taste and when my grandson was here at Christmas time, he wanted to taste some.  He drank it right down, handed me back the glass and said, "Good!"

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup finely grated lemon zest (from approximately 8 lemons)
4 large eggs
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 T baking powder
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup apricot or peach preserves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt cake pan, set aside.
In a medium bowl, add the lemon zest to the granulated sugar and using your fingertips, rub together until lemon sugar is well-blended.

Place the lemon sugar in a stand mixer with the unsalted butter and using the paddle attachment mix on high until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to blend and occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  After the last egg, beat an additional 4 minutes.
Place the dry ingredients in the bowl you just had the sugar/lemon mixture in and whisk to combine.
 Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk in 2 additions (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients)  Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake cake until golden brown and beginning to pull away from sides of pan, 60 to 70 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan about 10 minutes.  Invert cake onto a serving platter.

 To make glaze, combine the preserves and lemon juice in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until glaze is reduced to 1/2-cup (6 to 8 minutes).  Strain glaze into a small pitcher or 1-cup glass measure.  Pour glaze over cooled cake and let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

  As this lovely lemony cake was baking we had a fluke hail storm pass over and I was reminded we are still in the the midst of winter.

 I was also reminded of one of Kelly's favorite poems by Emily Dickinson~

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me. 

I hope you're having a wonderful weekend and Mother Nature is being kind to you. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

English Muffins for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day y'all!  My hubby surprised me with flowers from him and Rosie:-) and in return, I made him English Muffins and poached eggs...his favorite breakfast.

English Muffins are yeasted bread that was cooked on a griddle that dates back to the 19th century.  The old English rhyme, "The Muffin Man" describes a door-to-door purveyor of muffins~

Do [or "Oh, do"] you know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Do you know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane?

Yes [or "Oh, yes"], I know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Yes, I know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane.
 ~and Jane Austin also mentions them in Persuasion (one of my favorite novels by her).  My family loves them, but it wasn't something my mother ever made, although she did something similar when she would "fry" yeast dough for a quick roll. 

English Muffins
6 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar (remove 1 tsp. to add to the yeast)
1 3/4 cup buttermilk, heated for 1 minute in the microwave

2 T (or packages) of active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (about 105F-degrees)
1 tsp. sugar
Heat the buttermilk in the microwave and mix the yeast, water and sugar together to proof the yeast for 5 to 7 minutes. 
In a stand mixer, using the dough attachment, mix the dry ingredients together.  Add the warmed buttermilk while the mixer is running on low, then, add the proofed yeast.  Mix on Speed #2, adding additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to form dough--it should pull away from the sides.  This can can 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured board.
Knead until the dough is as smooth as a baby's behind!
Place in a large bowl that has been sprayed with a non-stick baking spray, or a plastic tub (as I do).
Let rise until doubled.  Turn out onto a lightly floured board and pat dough out to about 1-inch thickness.
Prepare a large baking sheet with a dusting of Semolina flour or cream of wheat.

Use a 4-inch ring to cut the dough and place on the "dusted" baking sheet.

Cover with a towel and allow to rest about 15 minutes.  Heat a griddle pan on med/low and brush with butter.  Allowing room in between, cook muffins over low heat  (about 7 minutes each side).

I found the best Muffin Splitter that separates the  muffin and allows for those famous "nooks and crannies" at King Arthur catalogue.

While hubby was enjoying his breakfast, I was enjoying mine with a beautiful chocolate-covered strawberry sent to me from a dear friend; she knows my weaknesses:-D
I hope the weather is being kind to you, but if you're stuck indoors, make muffins--I think they're one of my top comfort foods. Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Red Velvet Pancakes with Maple Cream Cheese Butter

Red Velvet anything is one of my favorites--it must be my Southern roots or the fact we live close to the Canadian border!  For Shrove Tuesday, I made pancakes, just like my mother did, but different:-D

Red Velvet (cake) began it's popularity in the late 40s and 50s at Canada's Eaton's Department Store, where their employees were sworn to secrecy about the ingredients.  The insurgence of this cake in the United States came after the movie, "Steel Magnolias" when the groom's cake, made in the shape of an armadillo, was red velvet!

Red Velvet Pancakes
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 T unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. Red Velvet Emulsion (or 1 T. Red Food coloring)
2 T Dutch-processed cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, (or a hand-held mixer and large bowl) beat the sugar, eggs, oil and butter together until it emulsifies.  Add the Red Velvet Emulsion or food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla and mix once again.

Whisk briefly all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and add to the red velvet mixture, alternating with the buttermilk.

Heat griddle on med/low.  To test if the griddle is ready, sprinkle some water on the surface (I run my fingers under water and splash the surface)--the drops of water should "dance!"

Scoop or spoon the batter onto the surface, using the back of the spoon to spread the batter slightly.
Cool until you see the surface dry slightly, then flip.  I have a warming drawer, but you could also use a pancake "steamer" to keep them warm while making the rest of the pancakes.
Maple Cream Cheese Butter
1-8oz package cream cheese
2 T unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
1/4 cup maple syrup

In a medium bowl, using a mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until creamy.  Slowly add the maple syrup, beating well after each addition.  Turn mixer to med/high and beat until fluffy.  Add a scoop of Maple Cream Cheese Butter to each plate, then, serve some additional warm syrup on the side.
Beautiful red color and the delicious taste of the maple cream cheese butter was all I needed for this tradition my mother started.  Let the good times roll...and the maple syrup. Enjoy!  


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chocolate Swirl~Cherry Scones

Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day was what we would call the day before Ash Wednesday and Lent began; it comes from the past tense of the English verb, shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one's sins.  My mother always made pancakes for the evening meal, which we thought was pretty cool to have breakfast for dinner.  (I'm making Red Velvet pancakes for dinner, which not only honors my mother's tradition, but to inspire for Valentine's Day too! recipe up tomorrow)

Mardi Gras is the French word for Fat Tuesday referring to the last day of enjoying rich, fatty foods before one begins the fasting during the Lenten season.  So, I decided to do it in a big way with these scones.  I discovered a new product on the King Arthur catalogue website called Chocolate "Schmear" and knew it would add the "richness" I was looking for in today's treat and adding cherries was...well, as they say, "the cherry on top!"
I used Candied Cherries, but dried or Maraschino would be great too! 
Chocolate Swirl~Cherry Scones
4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 T baking powder
1/3 + 1 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and grated
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1 cup chopped cherries (your choice)
1 jar of Chocolate "Schmear" 

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T light Karo syrup
2 T heavy cream

Valentine Cupid Sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients.  Grate the cold butter and add to the flour mixture, mixing on Speed # 2 until it resembles coarse sand.  Add the egg to the heavy cream and whisk to combine.  While the mixer is running on low, slowly add the cream mixture and the cherries.  When the dough comes together, stop the mixer and turn out onto a floured board.  Knead just until the dough forms a ball.
 Lightly flour the board once again, and on top of the dough.  Roll out to about 1/2-inch thickness and spread the Chocolate "Schmear" over the dough, leaving about 1/2" perimeter of the dough.

Roll the dough from the back to the front, lengthwise and seal the seam.  Divide the "log" in half, half again and then, each of those quarters into thirds for 12 pieces.  Flatten slightly and place on the backing sheet.  
Brush the tops with some additional heavy cream and bake for 15 minutes, then rotate pans and continue baking another 7 to 9 minutes until golden brown. 

Allow to cool about 10 minutes.  Make glaze and drizzle over the scones.  Sprinkle with the Valentine Cupid Sprinkles, if desired.

The perfect treat to begin Mardi Gras--Laissez les bons temps rouler!" Enjoy!