Raspberry Bread

Raspberry Bread

I am so happy I defrosted my freezer. All sorts of treasures have turned up. Among the things I found were a few bags of raspberries. I decided to make this raspberry bread with some of them.

This bread is a favorite of mine. It is not too sweet and pairs nicely with coffee or tea, so it can be a breakfast or brunch dish. It makes a nice dessert, too. The bread is studded with raspberries with hints of cinnamon and vanilla. It can be eaten plain or served up with fruit topping or maybe some whipped cream.  I have used it as the base for a pretty good shortcake. I topped slices of the raspberry bread with ice cream, more berries and a dollop of whipped cream. Like most quick breads, it is better if you wrap it up in plastic or foil, once cooled, and eat it the next day, if you can wait that long!!

 Raspberry Bread

1 ¾ c. flour
½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
½ c. butter, at room temperature
¾ c. sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
½ c. sour cream, room temperature
1 t. vanilla
1 c. raspberries, fresh or frozen
¾ c. chopped nuts, optional

Grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Set aside. In small bowl beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just moistened. Fold in berries and nuts and place batter in prepared pan. Bake 60-65 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf. Freezes well.

Creamy Lemon Tart

Creamy Lemon Tart

I wasn’t sure what to call this dessert. It started out as one thing, but sort of ended up somewhere else. I finally decided to just call it a tart. I’ll explain.

I was leaning towards making a cheesecake. I needed to make dessert for a dinner. Everybody loves cheesecake, right?  I already had cookie crumbs, I could use for the crust. Then, I discovered I only had one box of cream cheese. Not enough for a cheesecake.

While searching my fridge for cream cheese, I found a couple of lemons.

I suppose I could have made a lemon pie, but I decided to just make something up with what I had, including the cream cheese. What I ended up with is a sweet/tart lemon dessert. Really nice, actually.

Before I get to the actual recipe, let me talk about the lemons, and including fresh lemon juice in recipe directions.

Recipes will often list the “juice of a lemon” in the ingredients. There is about the same amount of lemon juice in all lemons, so that a little difference, one way or the other, is no big deal. The amount is anywhere from 2-3 tablespoons of juice in a lemon. 4 tablespoons, if the lemon is really big. I have used that phrase in recipes myself.

Sometimes, however, you have to recognize when you have lemons that aren’t “average”.

The two lemons I had on hand were big, really big. When I juiced them, I ended up with 2/3 of a cup of lemon juice. So, in this recipe I used the actual measurement of the juice, rather than saying, “the juice of 2 lemons.” Three or four average sized lemons should give you 2/3 cup of juice.

So here is the recipe for my lemon tart, the happy end result of using what I had, and making it work.

 

Creamy Lemon Tart

Crust:

1½ c. crushed vanilla cookies

4 T. melted butter

Filling:

1 (8oz.) container cream cheese, softened

½ c. sugar

2/3 c. lemon juice

Zest of two lemons

3 eggs

¼ c. cornstarch

 

Combine crust ingredients in medium bowl. Press crumb mixture into a 9 –inch springform or tart pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. While the crust is baking, make the filling. In mixing bowl combine the cream cheese with the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the lemon juice and zest and beat well. Add the eggs and cornstarch and beat until smooth. Pour filling over the baked crust and return to oven. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden on top. Center will be soft, but firms as the tart cools. Cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve. You can dust with powdered sugar, if you like.

 

Chocolate Beet Cake

Chocolate Beet Cake

I made this cake as part of a class on cooking with root vegetables. I have posted it before, but thought I would post the recipe again. The cake was so enjoyed in class- I wanted to share the recipe.

When I say beet cake, a lot of people give me a funny look. First, there are the beet haters, and you know who you are. The people who just don’t like the taste of beets. I get that, beets are an acquired taste. Then there are the people who like beets, but could never picture them in a cake. I bake cakes with carrots in them, and zucchini and even parsnips. Adding beets to a cake is not so far off. The beets add a subtle red color to the cake, but they also add moistness. The end result is a cake that is full of flavor and has a wonderful, moist texture. Truth is, I don’t really taste the beets in the cake much at all. I taste the chocolate. So here is the chocolate beet cake recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

Chocolate Beet Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

3 large eggs, beaten

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil

1½ cups grated cooked beets

2 teaspoons vanilla

Powdered sugar, optional, or cream cheese frosting- recipe below

 

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, soda, salt, sugar and cocoa in a bowl; set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and oil. Beat in vanilla and continue beating until well blended. Slowly beat in dry ingredients until well mixed; stir in beets. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25 to 35 minutes, or until cake bounces back when touched lightly with finger. Cool in pan on a rack. Frost cooled cake, or dust with powdered sugar.

Frosting recipe:

8 oz. Cream cheese, softened

3/4 c. powdered sugar- or more to taste

1 stick butter, room temperature

Beat all together until fluffy. Frost cake and refrigerate until ready to eat.

 

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Salad

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Salad

I thought about giving the bacon top billing, but truth be told, the Brussels sprouts really are the star of this dish. I know some people don’t like Brussels sprouts. I am not one of them. I have always loved them, even when I was a kid. I like them steamed with butter, roasted, pan fried and even raw.

This salad is a great way to enjoy their crunchiness in raw form. The bacon adds a wonderful smoky flavor. I also added an orange, some dried cranberries and toasted almonds. The dressing, sweetened with maple syrup, rounds out the dish.

An added bonus, it tastes good even the next day. The sprouts are like little cabbages. Unlike lettuce, which wilts quickly once dressed, the sprouts soften some, but retain most of their crunch. I have been known to eat this salad for breakfast the next day.

 

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Salad

8- 10 oz. Brussels sprouts
1 large orange, peeled and cubed
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
¾ c. dried cranberries
½ c. toasted slivered almonds*
Dressing:
¼ c. olive oil
¼ c. apple cider vinegar
2 T. maple syrup
1 T. fresh chopped parsley- or 1 t. dried
2 t. hot sauce, or to taste
½ t. dried thyme
½ t. dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim bottoms off the sprouts, cut in half and slice thin. You should end up with about 4 cups of sliced sprouts. Place in large bowl with the remaining salad ingredients. Place dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well to combine. Toss over Brussels sprout mixture.
Note: The salad ingredients can all be assembled a day ahead, then just dressed when ready to serve. This salad is also good the next day.
*To toast the almonds, place in a skillet over medium low heat and stir occasionally, until toasted. Be careful, once they start to brown, they can burn easily.

Nisu Bread – with Cardamom

Nisu Bread

This wonderful recipe came from the Finn grandmother of two good friends. It is a soft, slightly sweet bread, made special with the addition of cardamom.

Cardamom is a spice that has a rich, sweet flavor and fragrance.  You can purchase it ground or whole, in pods. Cardamom is often used in baked goods and adds a nice flavor to frosting and glazes. It is also used to flavor coffee. Cardamom is a little pricey. The good news is a little goes a long way. If you buy ground cardamom, you can store it in the freezer to keep it fresh longer.

This bread is lovely just toasted, and makes great French toast. It is also a nice sandwich bread. The recipe makes three loaves, so you can leave one out and freeze the other two.

Nisu

½ c. warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
2 c. milk
½ c. sugar
2-3 t. ground cardamom
1 t. salt
6 T. butter
6-7 c. flour, preferably bread flour
2 eggs

Dissolve yeast in water and set aside. Place milk in large bowl and add the sugar, cardamom, salt and butter. Heat in microwave until liquid is very warm. Butter might not be completely melted. Stir mixture until sugar is dissolved. Place 2 cups of flour in a mixing bowl and add the milk mixture, eggs and yeast mixture. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add 1 cup more of the flour and beat 2 minutes more. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until dough is firm and smooth, about 10 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl and turn dough to coat. Cover with a towel and allow to rest until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch dough down and divide into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a loaf and place in greased 9×5 inch bread pans. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden and loaf sounds hollow when tapped lightly. Makes 3 loaves.

Rainbow Ravioli

Rainbow Ravioli

You are sure to get a smile when you serve rainbow ravioli. These colorful ravioli are made with vegetable-based dough. Recipes for all the pastas and the filling follow below. Unused dough can be frozen and used later. Extra ravioli can also be frozen, so you can make a big batch and enjoy them for several meals.

To make the rainbow effect just grab a piece of the plain dough and add a few pieces of each of the veggie pastas. As you roll out the dough the colors will begin to spread out and blend. I fold and re-roll the dough a few times to get the colors to blend a little more. Every batch is a little different.

I often use a food processor to make pasta dough, especially the vegetable pastas because I often use vegetables that need to be pureed. I have a small processor which is perfect for small batches using no more than 1 cup of flour. I often use my stand mixer for larger batches and for plain dough. Always best to make pasta dough at least 30 minutes ahead and let it rest. You can even make it the day before and chill until ready to use.

 

Assorted pastas

Assorted pastas

Cooked beets and flour

Cooked beets and flour

Process until dough forms

Process until dough forms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freshly rolled sheets of dough

Freshly rolled sheets of dough

Simmer ravioli 3-5 minutes

Simmer ravioli 3-5 minutes

Ready to enjoy

Ready to enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic Homemade Pasta

 3 c. flour, more if using electric pasta machine. See note.

1 1/2 t. salt

4 eggs

Water, if needed

 

Mix flour and salt and stir in eggs, kneading until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be very stiff. Add a little water if needed to hold dough together. You may wish to mix the dough in a mixer or food processor. Cover dough and let rest 15-20 minutes before rolling. Under kneading your dough will result in coarse, crumbly pasta. This batch makes about 1 pound. Serves 4-6.

Roll dough out on well floured board or in pasta machine (non-electric) until desired thickness in reached. Add flour as needed to prevent sticking. Cut into strips or whatever shapes are desired. You might want to let the noodles dry 1-hour or more before cooking, but this is not necessary. Pasta can be hung to dry or separated and allowed to dry flat on a table. When pasta is not hanging to dry it must be turned occasionally to dry evenly.      Although you may hear otherwise, homemade pasta, even when dried, should be frozen for long term storage. Storing at room temperature can lead to spoilage. Fresh pasta can also be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Note: All electric pasta machines vary slightly and you should use their recipes as much as possible. Still, for most models, adding 1/4 c. flour for each cup in a hand rolled recipe works the best. Also recipes that contain seeds and vegetables may clog an electric pasta maker. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions.

These are smaller batches which can be mixed in a processor or by hand. If you want to mix a vegetable based pasta by hand, puree the vegetables first.

 

Carrot Pasta

 1 c. flour

1/2 t. dried dill

1/3 c. carrot puree

1-2 T. water, if needed

   Beet Pasta

1 c. flour

1/2 t. dill

1/3 c. beet puree

1-2 T. water, if needed

Spinach Pasta

2 c. flour

1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, cooked, drained, reserving some of the liquid

Mix this dough as for other pastas, but don’t be too quick to add reserved liquid. While kneading you’ll get water out of the spinach. May require more kneading and rolling than other pasta doughs. Be patient, it’s worth the work.

Broccoli Pasta

1 c. flour

1/2 c. broccoli puree

 Ravioli Filling

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

2/3 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

2/3 c. ricotta or cream cheese

1/3 c. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Combine all ingredients well and chill until needed.

Roll a batch of dough into  a rectangle, 18×12 inches and 1/16 inch thick. Arrange well rounded teaspoonfuls of the  cheese filling two inches apart on the pasta sheet. Roll out additional dough into an 18×12 inch rectangle. With a pastry brush moisten bottom sheet of pasta around edges with water. Place second sheet of pasta on top, using fingers to seal the dough around the edges of the filling. With a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut between the ravioli to separate them. You should have 24 ravioli.

To cook the ravioli- just drop them into simmering water and cook 3-5 minutes. If using frozen ravioli increase cooking time by about 2 minutes. Time will differ depending on how thick you rolled the dough and how many you are cooking at one time.

Spelt Biscotti with Walnuts

Spelt and Walnut Biscotti

These biscotti are made with spelt flour. Spelt is an ancient grain that is very closely related to wheat. It does contain gluten, so not an option for people with wheat allergies or Celiac, but a nice way to add a whole grain to your menu if you do eat wheat. Unlike whole wheat flour, which tends to be heavy in baking, spelt has a lighter texture and acts more like white flour. I used it to make these  biscotti and they are crisp, light and very tasty.

Biscotti are so easy to make. I don’t know why more people don’t bake their own. They are always nice to have with coffee, tea or a cold glass of milk. These aren’t too sweet, so biscotti make a nice breakfast. They also stay crisp for a long time, if stored in an air tight container.

Biscotti are twice baked. First in a loaf shape, then they are sliced and baked again. Most recipes will tell you to bake the slices half way, then turn them over to finish baking. A little time saving trick- just place a cooling rack on the baking sheet, then place the sliced biscotti on the rack. That way, they get crisp on both sides at once and there is no need to turn them.

Spelt Biscotti – with Walnuts

 1 ¼ c. spelt flour*

⅓ c. sugar

1 t. baking powder

¼ t. salt

½ c. walnuts

¼ c. golden raisins- I often use dried cranberries or other dried fruit

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

Combine dry ingredients with nuts and raisins in medium mixing bowl. In small bowl combine eggs and vanilla and add to dry ingredients. Stir together to make a slightly sticky dough. With oiled hands shape into loaf (2”x11”) on oiled sheet. Bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Slice the loaf thin using a serrated knife and place slices on a rack on a baking sheet then return to oven, reduce heat to 300-degrees bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container to retain crunch. Makes about 16.

* If you can’t find spelt flour you can use 3/4 c. all purpose flour and 1/2 c. whole wheat flour instead or substitute the entire amount of flour with whole wheat pastry flour.

Root Vegetable Soup

Root Vegetable Soup

Root vegetables are often associated with winter cooking. Before produce came from around the world, people lived off what they grew locally. In cold climates, that meant in the winter you ate the veggies that you preserved, or that stored well.

Root vegetables work well in winter foods. Most take a fair amount of cooking to get tender and add flavor and richness to soups, stews, chowders and more. Today, I used some root veggies to make soup.

When the air is chilly I am always in the mood for a nice hot bowl of homemade soup. This soup came about as I rummaged through the veggie bin. I had a number of root vegetables, so I decided to make them the focal point. I happened to have homemade turkey stock, but you could easily swap it out for chicken stock or vegetable stock as well.  So here it it- the recipe that was created based on what I happened to have on hand. The end result was really good.

 

Root Vegetable Soup

3 T. oil

1 onion, chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced

2 small parsnips, peeled and sliced

6 c. stock, I used turkey

2 c. peeled and diced turnips, about 2 medium

2 c. diced potatoes, about 2 medium

1 pint home canned tomatoes, or a (14 oz.) can of diced tomatoes, un-drained

1 medium sweet potato, diced

1/4 c. chopped parsley

2 T. apple cider vinegar

1 T. hot sauce, or to taste

salt and pepper to taste

In soup pot heat the oil and cook the onion until light golden. Add the  carrots and parsnips and cook until they are light golden, too. Add the stock, turnips, potatoes and tomatoes and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer, covered, until veggies are tender, about 20-30 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and remaining ingredients and cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve. Serves 6-8.

Classic White Cupcakes with Cherry Vanilla Buttercream

White Cupcake with Cherry Vanilla Frosting

I made these cupcakes for the wedding of two dear friends. They wanted just a simple white cupcake with white frosting. Always a classic, and perfect for the wedding reception. When it came time to make the frosting, I went with a simple vanilla buttercream, but I wanted to make it special for them. I decided to add cherry flavoring.

Pure cherry flavoring is clear, so the frosting was not going to turn pink. The combination of the vanilla and cherry was just the right touch. The frosting has a really nice flavor and fluffy texture, without being too sweet.

Well, I have to get ready for the wedding. Here are the recipes for both the cupcakes and the frosting.

 

 

Classic White (Vanilla)  Cupcakes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12paper liners. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when they springs back to the touch. Makes 12.

Cherry Vanilla Butter Cream

1/3 cup butter

4 ½ c. sifted confectioners’ sugar

¼ c. milk or half and half

1 t. vanilla extract

1 t. pure cherry flavoring

 

In a bowl beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in the 1/4 milk and flavorings. Slowly beat in remaining sugar. Beat in additional milk, if needed, to make of spreading consistency.

 

100% Whole Wheat Bread

100% Whole Wheat Bread

A lot of us want to eat more whole grains, but are unhappy when we try to make 100% whole wheat bread at home. There is a secret to baking whole wheat bread that is both tender, and slices easily. Whole wheat flour, high in gluten, also is high in fibers, which make it harder to get the gluten to that stretchy state. If you knead whole wheat bread dough for 5- 10 minutes, like white bread dough, you’ll have a dough that is far from elastic. The secret? Knead it longer. I knead my whole wheat bread dough about 20 minutes. That is easy if you have it in a stand mixer. Just set it on low and let the dough hook do the work. Not so easy if you are kneading by hand. When kneading for 20 minutes by hand, more and more flour gets added to the dough, to keep it from sticking. The extra flour results in a heavy dough, and a loaf of  bread that is best used as a door stop.  If you have to knead by hand- knead on a wet surface. The dough won’t stick to your hands or the board and you can knead it long enough to get a properly worked dough. How do you know your dough has been worked long enough? Hold the dough up to light and pull it. It should stretch thin enough so that you can see the light through it, without tearing. Here is one of several recipes I have for 100% whole wheat bread. I love it and I think you will, too.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

2 packets active dry yeast
2 2/3 c. warm water
½ c. oil
½ c. honey, molasses or maple syrup
6 ½ -7 c. whole wheat flour
½ c. non fat dry milk
2½ t. salt

Combine first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir in 3 cups of the flour the dry milk and the salt. Beat with electric mixer for 3 minutes. Stir in enough flour for mixture to form a thick batter and continue mixing on low in mixer for 15-20 minutes. Dough takes time to become elastic. Add extra flour slowly until dough comes away from the sides of the work bowl, but not too soon. Note: if you must do this by hand add flour until dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl and knead with wet hands on wet work surface for 15-20 minutes. Transfer dough to lightly greased bowl and cover, allowing to rise until puffy, about 1 hour. Punch dough down and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Divide in half and shape each half into a loaf. Place in a lightly greased 9×5 – inch pan. Brush top with oil and place a piece of plastic wrap over the top. Allow to rise until doubled. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Tent with foil after 20 minutes to prevent over browning of the top. Test for doneness by removing bread from pan and thumping on the bottom. Bread should sound hollow. Makes 2.

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