Sunday, March 22, 2015

Apple Cheesecake Bread

I thought I'd come up with a bread that would be perfect for those days when the sun is shining, temperatures are in the 70s, you've worked in the garden most of the day and now just want to sit back, enjoy a glass of wine on your porch or deck. Tall order...maybe not! That day was yesterday and an assortment of cheeses and fruit seemed like the way to end it.

My grandpa Frank loved a slice of cheese with apple pie, so this combination seemed very natural to me. I used, Manchego, Tipsy Goat, Harvati, Smoked Gouda, and an Irish cheese called Dubliner; Honey Crisp apples were the perfect choice for fruit.

Apple Cheesecake Bread
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature*
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Natural applesauce (I used Motts, but you could make your own)
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Apple Pie Spice
1 cup pecans (or walnuts) chopped

*If you cut your butter into 1/2-inch cubes, it will soften quicker!

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  I used my tea loaf pan + a mini bundt, but this will easily make a 12-cup Bundt cake, or 2- 9"x 4" loaves.  Grease and flour (I use a baking spray that combines both) the pan(s) of your choice, filling them about two-thirds high.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese together.  While the mixer is running on low, slowly add the sugar, then push the speed up to med/high and mix until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, then, add the applesauce and vanilla and mix and scrape down the sides again.

Add the dry ingredients and nuts and mix on low just until combined.  
Spoon batter into the prepared pans. Bake tea loaf pan about 40-45 minutes, small bundts about 30- 35 minutes, loaf pans 40-45 minutes, and 12-cup bundt about 45-50 minutes, but check using a wooden skewer when the center is done just in case.
That's it!  Warm, wonderful apple bread and cheese was the best way to end a perfect day. Enjoy!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today marks the cultural and religious celebration of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.  My family has roots in Ireland, so this was observed in our home with my Mom making soda bread and of course, cooking Corned Beef, cabbage, and potatoes.  The feast of St. Patrick on March 17th, marks his death; he was born in Roman Britain during the 4th century.  According to his history, much written by him, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland, where he spent six years working as a shepherd. During that time, he found God.  That's why his symbol of a three-leaved shamrock is for the Holy Trinity.

I will make Cheddar Cheese Irish Soda Bread this afternoon, but I also made a few Irish desserts for after dinner.  Tea Brack, also known as Irish Freckle Bread, resembles a fruit cake often served for breakfast.
The recipe came in an email from King Arthur for Tea Brack this past Sunday.  I used hot Irish Breakfast Tea, poured over dried fruits; the recipe called for raisins, currants, pitted prunes, and chopped dates, but I didn't have prunes, so I used a cup of dried cranberries, which I liked very much.

Filled with all those dried fruits, the cake was moist and full of flavor.

This morning, I made another recipe from that email--Pistachio Shortbread.
Perfect for the "green theme" of the day, this shortbread would be a wonderful ending to the dinner you have planned.

Hope you have a lovely day celebrating St. Patrick...I must go and bake my soda bread. Enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mushroom Bourguignon & Mashed Cauliflower

Last year, my husband and daughter flew to Las Vegas for a family wedding (unfortunately, with work I wasn't able to attend).  Our daughter had previous eaten at the Wynn Restaurant Tableau on a trip there and couldn't wait to introduce her Dad to the vegetarian menu offered.  After going on line and seeing the selection, I decided I could come up with a dish that could easily be offered there, but also, give "meat-eaters" an alternative without giving up the taste!

Bourguignon has been a favorite in my family and yes, I've made the recipe from Julia Child cookbook on several occasion.  However, a couple of decades ago, when everyone in my family started eating vegetarian, I had to come up with an alternative.  Portabello mushrooms was the obvious choice because they will hold up to the slow cooking of this dish and some people have said, "they have a beef-like taste."
To accompany this dish, I usually do mashed potatoes, however, keeping with a healthy alternative, I did mashed cauliflower, something I made when Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer and told to limit her carbs.  Mashed cauliflower is such an excellent substitute that my hubby thought they were mashed potatoes!  Finally, I baked rolls and added haricot verts to balance the entree, but the Bourguignon was definitely the star.

Mushroom Bourguignon (Serves 4, but can be easily doubled)
4 large Portabello Mushrooms, cleaned and cut into chunks
2 large onions, chopped
1 bunch of carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4" pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 lb. white button mushrooms, cleaned and slice
1 1/2 cups Burgundy
2 cups water
1 cube"Not beef"bouillon (or you can use vegetable stock)
1 T tomato paste
6 T Olive Oil
1-2 T unsalted butter
1 cup chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 375F-degrees. Prepare the vegetables--the Portabello need to have the "gills" scraped out; I use a teaspoon.  Clean all the mushrooms by using a damp paper towel to rub off any dirt.  Don't soak or run under water because mushroom will absorb the water.

Saute the onions and garlic in two tablespoons of Olive Oil until the onions are translucent.  Add the carrots and cooks about 7-10 minutes longer. Add the bay leaf and seasonings.
Transfer this mixture to a Dutch Oven.  Without cleaning the pan, heat again and add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the Portabello mushrooms (in batches so you don't over crowd).
Once the mushrooms are lightly browned, transfer them to the Dutch Oven too.  Add the water to the sauce pan with the bouillon cube and tomato paste and heat until the cube has dissolved.  Add this liquid and the 1 1/2 cups of burgundy to the Dutch Oven, covered and place in the oven to cook for 45-50 minutes.

About 15 minutes before the time has elapsed, saute the white button mushrooms in 2 T of olive oil and 1 or 2 T unsalted butter.  Cook until all the liquid the mushrooms release is absorbed.

Add these mushrooms and parsley to the Dutch oven and lower the temperature to 350F-degrees with the cover removed. Mix 3 T cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water, add to the mixture and stir to incorporate the "thickening" agent.

Mashed Cauliflower
2 heads of cauliflower, cleaned and cut into florets

Steam the cauliflower using a steam rack or pan double boiler pan with a sieve in about 1-inch of water, about 10 minutes or until tender.  Save the liquid.

To mash the cauliflower--I used my Vita-Mix, but you can also use a food processor.
Add the florets to the machine, along with 3 T of reserved liquid and 1-2 cloves of garlic sauteed in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Process until mashed.  I did add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, salt and pepper to taste and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

This vegetarian version has all the flavor the original does and I would bet even Julia Child would love it.  If you don't like Portabello mushrooms (something I can't fathom) you could substitute a produce by Gardein called "beef tips). Enjoy!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Red Velvet~Cherry Chip Oatmeal Cookies

There's nothing like a good cookie...and this is a good cookie!  I was inspired by a new product from Nestles'--Toll House "DelightFulls; a filled baking morsel.
It comes in several flavors (I've used the Peanut Butter filled already), but today, I decided on the Cherry flavored filling.  As my sister and I say, "I wonder how they did it?", but they did.  These chips are just a little larger than regular chocolate chips, so they must have used Elves:-D  Combined with the Southern flare of Red Velvet and the wholesomeness of oatmeal, these cookies are sure to Delight you too!

Red Velvet~Cherry Chip Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. Almond flavoring
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 T Red Velvet flavoring (or you can use red food coloring
2 T Cocoa (I used Cocoa Rouge to boost the flavor and color)
Both of these products can be found at King Arthur Catalogue  
1 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
3 cups Old-fashioned Oatmeal
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. Nestles' Toll House Cherry-flavored baking chips

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, then add the sugars and beat until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the flavorings, extract, and cocoa and mix again.

Add the dry ingredients, dried cherries, then the chips and mix just until combined.

Scoop the cookies with a #20 scoop (about 1/4 cup) onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about two inches between them.  Use your fingers to press down slightly on the scooped dough.
Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven.  Allow the cookies to cool slightly, then remove to a rack to cool completely...or if you're like me, a warm cookie is almost like heaven!
Now, who cares what the weather brings--Enjoy!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dried Cherry Scones with Almond Glaze & March's Give-Away-Apron

Good thing I like roller coasters; Wednesday, our weather was sunny and 75-degrees and on Thursday, the temperatures dropped to 47-degrees and then, below freezing at night time...and rainy! So Thursday was a good baking day, although, by afternoon, I was feeling the dreariness and a nap felt better than sitting at the computer to post the recipe and apron:-D

As I promised, this apron will definitely bring a little cheeriness to everyone amidst the snow and/or freezing temperatures...and I do believe that Spring will not skip its turn.
Make a comment on any of my posts this month and you could win this darling apron of tiny cherries with a splash of the green to honor St. Patrick's Day as well; I am Irish, after all.

Dried Cherry Scones
2 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (plain flour)
2 T firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 T baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces or grated
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup half & half
1 large egg (an addition large egg + 1 tsp. water will be used to brush on the top of the scones.)
1/2 cup dried cherries, softened in hot water, then, drained and chopped
1 cup confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
1/8 tsp. almond flavoring
1 T light Karo syrup
2-3 T very warm water

Preheat oven to 400F-degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place cherries in a small bowl and cover with hot water.  Allow to soak about 25 to 30 minutes.  Drain and coarsely chopped.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the butter, one piece at a time or the grated butter all at once and mix again.  Add the chopped dried cherries.

In a 2-cup glass measure, add the half & half and large egg, lightly whisk together, then add the 1/2 cup of honey and whisk again.  Add the liquid measure to the dry while the mixer is on low.  Mix only until the dough comes together.
Place dough on a lightly floured board and knead slightly.  Pat dough into a circle, approximately 7" by 1" thick.  Today, I merely cut the scones into "pie wedges," but you can use your favorite cutter.

Place the scones on the parchment lined baking sheet and brush the tops with 1 large egg + 1 tsp. water.
Bake in the preheated oven for 14 to 17 minutes.  I actually lowered the oven temperature to 375F-degrees after 10 minutes.  The scones should be a lovely golden brown.
Allow to cool about 10 minutes, then glaze with the Almond Glaze.  Serve while still warm, but for extras--cool completely, then, wrapped in wax paper and place in a freezer plastic bag.  To reheat, microwave for 20 seconds; they're perfect!
The roller coaster continues with temperatures in the 60s for the weekend.  I'm waiting to get outside and work in the about you? Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

February's Apron Winner!

Congratulations to Brenda who is the winner of February's Snowman Apron! Please email me your address and this gift will be sent to you:-D

Tomorrow, I will have March's apron up and it's guaranteed to make you feel Cheery!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Anadama Bread

March has come in rather wet for us, however, there is still some snow covering from our storm earlier this week and baking bread just seems like the right thing to do.  Anadama bread is one of my favorites that my mother and I would bake...and my father would eat!  The anniversary of his passing was the 24th; it's been 20 years and I still miss his sense of humor, loving nature, and the person who convinced me that mathematics would always be a part of my life.
Me and my Dad  
Anadama bread is a rustic dough made, not only with flour, but with cornmeal, molasses, and this recipe that I adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, lots of seeds.  There are many legends where this bread originated from; Rockport and Gloucester, Massachusetts claim it as their own, but many think it originated in Europe.  However, the story my Mother told me was, "a husband, who came home every day from working in the fields, was met with the cornmeal mush his wife Anna made.  One day he came home and Anna had left him, only to leave a bowl of the mush behind. He mixed flour and yeast with the mush and threw it in the oven, exclaiming Anna, damn her!"  This was such a favorite in our home that my mother and I made it for my wedding reception, which was very much enjoyed by my new husband as well.

My three "Culinary Cats" look on while I begin the baking process...
Harper, Clara, and Zuzu on the stool:-D
Anadama Bread
1/2 cup very warm water + more for the dough
1 T (or pkg.) of active dry yeast
1/2 tsp granulated sugar

Mix the ingredients together and allow to "proof" for about 7 to 10 minutes to ensure the yeast is active--it should get foamy.

2 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (plain flour)
1 cup fine ground cornmeal
1 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt (I used Baking Salt)
1/4 cup mild molasses
2 T soften butter
2 T Golden Flax meal
2 T  Black Sesame Seeds
2 tsp. White Sesame Seeds (or Hemp Seeds
2 T. Flax seeds
2 tsp. Poppy seeds

In a stand mixer, using the dough hook, mix all the ingredients together.  Add the proofed yeast and about another 1/2 cup of water, adding the water slowly just until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a bread board and knead until smooth.  Place dough, right side down into a large, buttered bowl, then, turn right-side-up.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about 1 hour.  Remove the dough after the rising and form into a loaf (8" x 4" x 4").  Place into the buttered loaf pan and allow to rise another 45 minutes.

Just before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 375F-degrees.  Place the dough into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 180F-degrees internally.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit on a rack for 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan.  Allow to cool completely before cutting into it.
The texture is wonderful and the taste brings back some fond memories on this wet, cold day.  Miss you Dad.  Enjoy!