Saturday, August 31, 2013

Zucchini Orange Muffins

It might be early but I am taking stock of my harvest this year.  So far I've gotten three heirloom tomatoes; 1 grape tomato; 5 raspberries; 3 figs (if you count the one the squirrels ate); two mini carrots about the size of your baby fingernail (I'm sure they were supposed to be bigger but it was 3 months already and I couldn't wait any longer); And one beautiful, spectacular zucchini!  Not to mention 2 more on the way, see...

Well, I had to do something spectacular with the zucchini and that's where the orange zucchini muffins came in.  There's something very, very spectacular about baking with fruits or veggies that you grew yourself and you can taste it in these muffins.  They're wholesome but light; tender and citrus-y.  You get the feeling you're eating something good for you but it tastes like pure indulgence.  The husband wouldn't go near them, partly because he was in the mood for a bacon bagel (a toasted everything bagel piled high with bacon)!  But if you're looking for something with less pork and more fiber, something green and subtlety sweet, something spectacular, please make these muffins your breakfast of choice!

zucchini orange muffins

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
rind of 1 orange
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup mandarin oranges
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium until fluffy.  Scrape the bowl and beater as needed.

Add egg and mix on medium until thoroughly incorporated.  Add vanilla extract and orange rind and mix in.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mandarin oranges and mix just to combine.  Add another third of the flour mix and the zucchini and mix again to combine.  End with the last third of flour. 
Scoop into muffin pan lined with muffin papers.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins are golden and slightly springy in the center. 

Cool muffins on a wire rack.  Combine confectioners' sugar and orange juice and whisk out any lumps.  Dip the cooled muffins in glaze.  Makes 12 muffins.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Everyberry Hand Pies

First, a disclaimer.  These aren't every berry, just every berry I could get my hands on.  I encourage you to seek as many berries as you can, summer is fleeting and there are still so many berries out there.  The idea is every and any berry can go into these hand pies.  

Love, love, love hand pies, they really are the perfect summer dessert. They're right there for you at the beach, at the barbecue, at the baseball game.  They're casual, like summer.  Striped down and simple.  

It goes without saying that the hand pie is for crust lovers so the dough is really important to get right.  I think you will love this crust.  It's super flaky and tender, but can still stand up to the juicy berries.  

And speaking of berries, as with all pies it's a matter of taste.  Taste your berries and if they are tart (or if you like things sweet) add more sugar.   As is, I went very light on sugar.  I didn't even put a glaze on these or a sprinkle of confectioners' sugar and you know how I love doing that.  I just think they're perfect they way they are!

every berry hand pies

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon raw can sugar (plus some for the top)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into little pieces and chilled
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
ice water, enough to form dough

4 pints berries
2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
1 teaspoon potato starch
rind of one lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 egg

In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt and sugar.  Cut in butter and vegetable shorting until mixture resembles a course meal.

Add just enough ice water to form a dough.  Turn dough out of bowl and knead it together.  Form into a disk, wrap and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine berries with sugar, potato starch, rind and lemon juice.  Set aside.  Crack egg into small dish and set aside.  Divide dough into 8 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a 5 inch round.  Spoon berry filling onto one side of the dough leaving an inch from the edge. 

Brush the edge of the dough with egg wash.  Fold dough over filling and press the edges together, and trim.  Prick with a fork.  Make 3 cuts in the top of the pie.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. 

Bake for 20 minutes or until crust is golden and juices are bubbling.  Carefully remove from from sheet and cool on rack.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sourdough Rosemary Parmesan Crackers

Never having made crackers before I wasn't sure what to expect, especially since these were going to be sourdough crackers for August's Sourdough Surprises.  It did occur to me that not having anything with which to compare them could be a good thing.  At least they couldn't turn out worse than the last time I made them, right?

To make things seem better I took a time lapse before and after photo of my freshly fed starter.  
Not that I've used it alone to get a rise out of anything, but it seems the little beasties are are alive and well after all,  so I got that going for me!  With new found confidence, I throw myself into the project at hand  and learned a few good lessons along the way.  

No matter how thin you think you've rolled the dough, it can always get just a bit thinner.  The perfect cracker walks a fine line between done and burned.  And homemade crackers are ridiculously easy to make and ridiculously addictive!  

Now I want to be perfectly honest, my first attempt was much beloved by certain members of our household.  The dogs, yes the dogs loved um!  They were rye crackers and if anyone has a good recipe for rye crackers I need it now.  But I didn't let this stop me and the premise that my next batch couldn't be worse than my last still held so I throw myself into the project at hand again.

The second time around I adapted this recipe by the adorable Julie Hasson.  Basically subbed Parmesan for garlic and made the necessary changes for the starter.  Let me tell you, they are fantastic!  Crispy, crunchy, salty and full of savory goodness.  They were great just out of hand for a nibble and out of this world with a certain sheep's milk cheese that my sister brought back from Amsterdam for me.  What!

Considering how easy and tasty homemade crackers are, (well not rye) not to mention the endless variety (except rye) awaiting my rolling pin, I may never buy them ( well, except rye) again!

sourdough rosemary Parmesan crackers
(adapted from Julie Hasson)

1 & 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt (plus some for the top)
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup discard starter (or enough to make a firm dough)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, rosemary, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Stir in olive oil and starter until a "shaggy" (Julie's word, love it!) dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead briefly until smooth.  Divide into two balls.  Working with one ball at a time roll out on a piece of parchment paper to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut dough with a pasty wheel or a pizza cutter to desired size.  Repeat with the rest of the dough. 

Transfer crackers on parchment to a sheet pan.  Bake for 25 minutes or until crackers are golden.  Makes 40 to 80 crackers depending on the size.  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tomato and Dragon Tongue Bean Salad with Salty Five Herb Dressing

A picture speaks a thousand words so I'm just going to let these pics to the talkin for me.  Suffice to say all the veg and herbs came right from my garden.  And the salt was straight from Salt restaurant in the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island.  Pucker up!  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Apricot Crumb Bars

I love baking with peaches but they do have to be peeled before baking which slows down the whole process of getting something sweet in your pie hole.  Not so with their humble little cousin, the apricot.  Apricots are still in season and I got some tasty ones at the market this weekend. They were perfect for a quick batch of apricot crumb bars.

Apricots are high in vitamin C and A and while I'm not saying these crumb bars are good for you (although they will put you in a good mood), you might just want to make a baker's treat of one or two while you're making the bars. 

If you saw this article in the NYT (and read the comments) than you know you can't really have a good apricot experience unless you've just picked one and are eating it under the tree.  With that in mind I boosted the apricot flavor with a layer of apricot preserves.  That did the trick and these bars were wonderful!  Very rich but delicate, more like a fancy tart than a bar.  And so full of fruit they were a great apricot experience, no tree needed.

apricot crumb bars

3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, cut into little pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup apricot preserves
4-6 apricots (about 3 cups of diced apricots)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.  Pulse flour, sugar and baking powder in a food processor until combined.  Add cut up butter and pulse until crumbly.  Remove 1 cup of mixture and set aside.  Add egg and pulse until a crumbly dough forms.

Press dough into bottom of prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.  Mix reserved crumb mixture with coconut and chill. 

When dough is finished baking, spread with apricot preserves.  Cut apricots into small pieces and layer over preserves.  Top with coconut crumb mixture.  Return to oven for another 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool and cut.  Makes 12-16 bars.