Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fig Preserves

There are oh so many figs this year!  I can't explain it, not even going to try.  I'm too busy eating figs, and giving them away and thinking up fig recipes and making fig preserves and chasing squirrels (yes, there are so many figs this year that the squirrels finally thought it was worth checking out).

This recipe is super simple but it does call for a caboodle of figs, about 30, so unless you have a fig tree or you have a friend who has a fig tree or you just won the lottery it may not be for you.  Last I checked figs were selling anywhere from .50¢ to $1.00 each making this preserves a pretty pricey proposition!

However, if you happen to find yourself with a surfeit of figs I highly recommend this recipe.  Not only is it out of this world on toasted bagels or crusty sourdough, it can also be an ingredient in other recipes. (Spoiler alert: figgy bars, coming to this blog near you soon)!

fig preserves

4 cups chopped figs (stems removed)
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

Place all ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed pot.  Cook on medium high, stirring often until mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring occasional to keep mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  If your stirring spoon leaves a empty space when drawn through the mixture it's probably done.  

Transfer cooled preserves into containers, cover and keep refrigerated.  If you want to jar the preserves for later use follow these handy tips.
 Makes about 3 cups.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sourdough Wild Blueberry Pancakes

And now a topic near and dear to my heart: pancakes!! This month the Sourdough Surprise is sourdough pancakes, not that I need an excuse.  My default pancake lately has been buckwheat and blueberries.  I love the combination, it's hearty but lightened up a bit by the blues. 

But this time around I had corn flour on the brain, though I still wanted blueberries in the mix.  Since my starter is a white whole wheat creature I wasn't sure how it would react to the buckwheat flour.  So I switched the buckwheat for a blend of white whole wheat and corn flour and threw in some wild blueberries just 'cause.  Amazing!!

They came out lightly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside;  crammed with tart berries, complimented by the mellow flavor of corn flour and the zing of sourdough starter.  Wow!!  I made a bunch to photograph and found myself noshing on them even when they got cold!  Of course this recipe made a ton so I was able to make some more to savor at my leisure.  Unless you're feeding an army (or you really, really like pancakes) feel free to cut this recipe in half.

sourdough wild blueberry pancakes

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 & 1/4 cup milk
1 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup butter, melted (plus more butter for the pan)
2 cups wild blueberries 
maple syrup and more butter to serve

In a large bowl whisk together flour, corn flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.  In another bowl whisk eggs, milk, starter and melted butter.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk just to combine, it's OK if it's lumpy.

Heat a griddle or skillet on medium high heat and coat liberally with butter.  When the butter starts to sizzle pour about 1/3 cup of pancake batter in the pan and do this for as many pancakes as your pan or griddle will hold.  You want the pan to stay hot enough to cook the pancakes but not hot enough that it starts smoking, so keep an eye on the flame.  I usually find that, for some strange reason, the first pancake never comes out right!
Scatter about 2 tablespoons of wild blueberries over each pancake, as evenly distributed as possible.  When the top of the pancake is bubbly and the edges are golden, flip the pancake and cook the other side for a minute or two.  I usually transfer the cooked pancakes to a dish and dot each one with butter and then cover them to keep them warm until I can't stand it anymore and I have to eat one even if I'm not done making them for everyone.  Serve with real maple syrup and only real maple syrup!  Makes about 18-20 pancakes.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Cinnamon Chip Scones

I don't go to Starbucks very often but when I do I always get a cinnamon chip scone.  Partly I don't go to Starbucks very often because I would be eating too many of said scones.  I just love 'um.  There's something so warm and comforting about them.  Who ever came up with the cinnamon chip I want to give them a hug.

I used to make tons of cinnamon chip scones back in the day when we were selling them wholesale and of course mine were even better than S'bucks!  (And, no, I don't know how I wasn't big as a house from all those fresh baked cinnamon chip scones!)   And I would love to bake my own now, but the problem is I can't always source the cinnamon chips, so there you go.

That's why I loaded up on the chips when I saw them at the market recently.  And I'm so happy I can share this recipe with you.  I went a step further  and added raisins as well because I love raisins and what's better than cinnamon raisin?

This recipe made a boat load so I ended up taking some down to my Vets office for her and her wonderful staff.  Gotta share the love and besides the less cinnamon chip scones in the house the less I'll be eating! 

cinnamon chip scones 

4 cups white whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons raw cane sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, cut into little chunks
1 cup cinnamon chips
1/2 cup raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
2 eggs
1 & 1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a stand mixer combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add butter and mix on low until the butter is smaller than pea size and mixture is crumbly. 

Add cinnamon chips and raisins and mix just to combine.  Whisk eggs and heavy cream together and add to flour mixture.  Mix on low just until dough forms, do not over mix or scones will be tough.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead just to get it uniform.  Roll dough to about 1 inch thick.  Cut scones into desired shape and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for 15 minutes or until scones spring back in the center and edges are lightly golden.  Makes 18 large or 24 small scones.  

cinnamon glaze

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 & 1/2 tablespoon half and half

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.  Make a piping bag out of parchment paper, or just use a spoon, and drizzle glaze onto cooled scones.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Grilled Fig and Feta Salad

The best part about having a fig tree on the front lawn is you get to eat figs.  It's that simple, there's no mystery there.  Starting in the end of July until whenever the gods deem it so (October?) you get to munch on juicy, plump figs to your hearts content.  And should you ever tire of this treat in all it's uncomplicated splendor, then I have got a salad for you.

Somehow, as if it could get any better,  you wake up one day and decide to grill some figs.  And then you pick whatever else is growing in the immediate vicinity, in my case grape tomatoes, lemon balm, basil, chocolate mint and oregano, and dash it all together with a coating of honey, a splash of lemon and some feta cheese.  Oh.  My.  God.

I'm not posting a recipe because I just did.  But the main thing is grill some figs.  Brush liberally with olive oil, get that grill nice and hot, leave 'um on there for just a minute of two and see what happens.  Even if you don't have a fig tree.  Just buy some figs and do it.  Do it.  Do it now.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cinnamon Cranberry Zucchini Bread

What is it about a fruit grown in summer that lends such a taste of autumn to a recipe?  I'm talking about zucchini and I can't quite figure it out but I'm loving it anyway, especially in this cinnamon cranberry zucchini bread.  It's puts me in the mood for cool nights, early sunsets and sweaters.

I found some cinnamon chips at the market and since they don't always carry them I purchased a few bags to hold me over.  They added just the right amount of sweet burn to what could be a bland baked good; zucchini's not know for it's outstanding flavor after all.  Not taking any chances I doubled down and added some sweet-tart dried cranberries as well

But it seems to be the vegetal note that's at the heart and soul of this, defiantly sweet, zucchini sweet bread.  It could easily pass for dessert if baked in a cake pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting.  But it's excellent just as is.  It's light and moist; and a bit chewy, especially around the crust.  Even better, it's that kind of special thing that improves with age (just like me), so be sure to save some for breakfast!

cinnamon cranberry zucchini bread

4 eggs
1 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 and 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 and 1/2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup cinnamon chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl whisk together eggs, sugars, oil and zucchini.  In another large bowl (at least 5 quart size) whisk together flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon.

Add wet ingredients into dry and stir thoroughly to combine.  Fold in cinnamon chips and cranberries.  Pour batter into buttered and floured bread pans (3 small or 1 large and one small).  Bake for 1 hour (45 minutes for small pans) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Heck of a Lot of Vegetables Vegetarian Moussaka

I was helping my coworker think up recipes for her bumper crop of eggplants (or aubergine as the British say), when I came across a recipe for moussaka.  She'd already made a ton of eggplant Parmesan and wasn't too keen on the baba ganoush I mentioned but the moussaka looked promising.

When I became the happy recipient of a couple of her eggplants I thought I might as well try out a moussaka recipe for myself.  Most of the recipes I saw had a very flavorful meat sauce as one the main components.  I knew I wanted to go meatless so that meant beefing up the sauce with veggies.  I knew I also didn't want a heavy Bechamel sauce to go on top of everything so I gave that a redo as well.  

The end product was a filling but lighter version of a standard moussaka with all the rich flavor and a healthy dose of your daily requirement of vegetables. 


2 eggplants 
4-6 tablespoons olive oil, plus some for the pan
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 crimini  mushrooms
1 can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
pinch of nutmeg
2 eggs
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a 9 by 12 baking pan.  Trim the top and bottom from the eggplants and slice lengthwise into slices about 1/2 inch thick.  Brush both sides with olive oil and layer in baking pan.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes or until eggplant is tender.  

Meanwhile make the sauce. In a medium heavy bottomed pot on medium high heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add onions, pepper, garlic, mushrooms, oregano, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Saute for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  If pan becomes sticky add a bit of water or a few drops of cooking Sherry.

Add tomato sauce, tomato paste and bay leaf.  Simmer for 20 minutes. 

To make the Bechamel sauce: In a small heavy bottomed pan on medium high heat melt butter.  Add flour and stir in.  Bring to a boil and cook for a minute, stirring occasionally.  Whisk in milk and nutmeg and cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 2 or 3 minutes.  Remove from heat; crack eggs into medium bowl.  Pour about 1/4 of the milk mixture into the eggs and whisk in.  Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the pot and whisk in. Set aside.

Pour the vegetable sauce over eggplant and smooth with an offset spatula.  Top with cooled Bechamel sauce and smooth.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and Bechamel is set.  Makes 8 servings.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Almond Apricot Gems

You know how everyone seems to be going gluten free these days and for all sorts of reasons other than gluten intolerance?  I saw some garbanzo bean flour at the market last week and thought to myself, (which is the best way to think), I have got to try that for some gluten free baking!

A few years ago my sister told me about a cookie made with garbanzo beans  and I believe at the time I called her crazy.  A few day later she produced the recipe and said something like 'who's crazy now?!' (Sibling rivalry much?)  I quickly lost that recipe by accident on purpose and if I remember correctly the recipe called for actual beans, so it wouldn't have helped me use up this chick pea flour (also know as Besan) anyway.  But the cookie part seemed the way to go.  

I drew heavily on this recipe but it seems there are lots of precedents to go on when it comes to garbanzo bean cookies.  I can't wait to try a chocolate version!  Everyone who tasted these cookies positively swooned about how wonderful they are.  I wanted to not tell them what was in them but I was so excited I broadcasted it to everyone.  They are incredibly moist and chewy and they leave you feeling like you just enjoyed something that was actually not that bad for you.  Who's crazy now!

almond apricot gems

1 cup Bob's Red Mill garbanzo bean flour
1 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup raw cane sugar (plus more for the top)
1 egg
rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup apricot preserves

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl whisk together chick pea flour, almond flour and cardamom.   In a stand mixer cream butter and sugar.   Add egg and mix well.  Add lemon rind, scrap bowl and beater and mix to combine.  Add flour mixture and mix to combine.

Scoop cookies (the ideal size is slightly smaller than a walnut) onto parchment lined cookie sheets.  Sprinkle with sugar and make an indent in the center of each cookie.  Bake cookies for 8 minutes.  Pull the cookies out of the oven and carefully fill the indent with a 1/2 teaspoon of apricot preserves, (if the cookies have puffed up you might need to make another small indent before adding the preserves).  Return tray to oven and bake another 4 or 5 minutes or until cookies are golden around the edges.  Makes 32 cookies.