Dandelion Recipes

It’s funny when you think about it. People spend tons of money to eradicate dandelions from their lawns, but will go to an upscale restaurant and pay good money for a salad with mixed greens including dandelions. Dandelions were not always considered a weed. In fact, immigrants brought the seeds to America as a vegetable.

While the greens can be bitter, they can also be tamed when paired with certain ingredients. Combining dandelions with tomatoes, vinegar, cheese or other dairy products, and bread or cereal products will make them less bitter when eaten.

Dandelions are packed with nutrients, and if you don’t spray your yard with herbicides, you can likely find them under your own feet. Free, tasty and nutritious. Sounds like a win all around.

The plant is pretty much edible from top to bottom. The leaves for salads, soups and other dishes. The flowers are used for wine, jelly and the “burger” recipe at the bottom of this page. I recently baked dandelion flowers into muffins.  The roots are roasted and used as a substitute for coffee. If you haven’t eaten dandelions before my only question is, what are you waiting for?

A classic dish using dandelions is dandelion gravy. Some versions use bacon, others not. This one uses bacon, sour cream and is served with boiled potatoes.

Dandelion Gravy

Dandelion Gravy

4 strips bacon
3 T. flour
1 c. water
1 lb. dandelion greens, washed and chopped
½ c. sour cream
1 T. sugar
1 T. vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot boiled or baked potatoes
Fresh chopped parsley, optional

Chop bacon and cook in skillet until crisp. Leave bacon in the pan. Remove all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat and stir in the flour until smooth. Add water and dandelion greens and cook over medium heat until greens are tender- about 5- 10 minutes. Add more water if mixture is too thick. Turn off heat. Combine sour cream with sugar and vinegar and stir into dandelion mixture. Adjust seasonings. Spoon gravy over potatoes.
Serves 4.

Note: If you want leave out the bacon instead add 3 tablespoons of oil to skillet along with the flour.

The next 2 recipes come from Dr. Peter Gail, my mentor and dearly loved  friend. I will always remember Peter when I cook with dandelions.

Dandelion Pita Pizza

Pita bread, toasted English muffin, or toasted bread
Spaghetti or pizza sauce
Fresh dandelion greens of any age, chopped fine
Grated cheese (any kind)
Cover bread with sauce, add chopped greens, top with cheese, and toast in oven until cheese
melts. For a more sophisticated treat, chopped dandelion greens may be sauteed in olive oil with
onions, mushrooms and several cloves of crushed garlic, and then spread on the pizza and topped
with cheese.

Dandy Burgers

1 cup dandelion flowers, green removed
½ cup flour, any kind
1/4 cup onions, chopped fine

½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/8 tsp pepper
enough milk to make thick batter.
Peel dandelion flowers and put in 4 quart mixing bowl. Add onions and mix together. Blend
flour and seasonings together, add to the flowers and onions, and blend thoroughly. Add milk
slowly, blending it in until you have a thick batter.
Heat olive oil in frying pan to cover bottom. Form batter into golf-ball-sized balls. Place in
oil, and squash down flat to make a 2″ diameter patty. Fry till brown on both sides. Remove and
serve on small rolls as you would hamburger sliders.

This post is dedicated in loving memory of Dr. Peter Gail

Pineapple Cake Roll

Pineapple Cake Roll

This cake roll makes a great dessert for almost any occasion. The tender sponge cake is filled with a mixture of sweetened pineapple, chopped nuts and coconut. Then it is topped with more pineapple and toasted coconut.

It looks difficult, but it is really easy to make. Most cake rolls are baked, then rolled,  cooled and filled. In this recipe, the filling is baked in the roll. The pineapple mixture is placed in the baking pan, then the batter is  spread on top, before baking. Once baked, the cake is rolled up and cooled. Once cooled, it is topped with the pineapple sauce and toasted coconut. You can make the cake a day or two ahead, wrap and pop in the fridge, then just add the toppings before serving. It also freezes well.

Here is the recipe. Hope you will give this one a try. I think you will love it as much as I do.

Pineapple Cake Roll

1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, unsweetened

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup flaked coconut

1/4 cup chopped nuts

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

4 large eggs

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar

Topping, see below

Drain pineapple well; reserve 3/4 cup juice and 1/2 cup crushed pineapple for topping. Combine in a large mixing bowl the drained pineapple, brown sugar, coconut, nuts (your choice), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, cinnamon and cloves. Mix well and spread over the bottom of an ungreased 15 × 10 × 1-inch jelly-roll pan. Set aside. Place egg whites in a bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and pale yellow; gradually beat in remaining 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Gently fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture. Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Gently fold flour mixture into egg mixture. Spread batter evenly over pineapple mixture in pan. Bake in preheated 375° oven for 20-25 minutes. Carefully loosen cake around edges. Invert cake onto kitchen towel which has been sprinkled with powdered sugar. Let stand 3-4 minutes then roll up, jelly-roll fashion. Cool cake then garnish with pineapple topping.

Topping: Combine 3/4 cup reserved pineapple juice, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in saucepan; blend well. Cook until thick and clear. Stir in reserved pineapple; cool. Spoon on cake roll and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

To toast coconut- place about a cup of coconut on a baking sheet . Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 5-8 minutes, or until coconut turns a nice golden color. Watch carefully, so you don’t burn it. I like to use large flake coconut.

Fresh out of the oven
Inverted onto powdered sugar coated towel
Roll up gently
Ready for the topping

Almond Biscotti

Almond Biscotti

I love these biscotti.  They are just the thing to dunk in a cup of hot coffee or tea.  Besides chopped almonds, they are flavored with Amaretto, lemon zest and lemon juice. The almonds and lemon work really well together.

The hard texture of biscotti comes from twice baking them. First the dough is formed into a log and partially baked. Then the “log” of dough is sliced- and the slices are baked a second time. For the second baking, most recipes tell you to turn the biscotti halfway through the baking process. This is so they dry and crisp up on both sides evenly.

I have a much easier way to handle the second bake. Just place a cooling rack on your baking sheet. Then arrange the slices on top of the cooling rack. Now, when you bake the slices- the heat dries them out and crisps them up on both sides. No need for turning them over mid-bake.

Biscotti are so easy to make, I wonder why more people don’t make their own. The ones from the store are never as good.

So here is the recipe. I hope you try to make your own biscotti, if you haven’t before.

Almond Biscotti

2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 T. Amaretto liqueur
1 T. lemon juice
2 t. grated lemon peel
2 c. coarsely chopped almonds, about 9 oz.

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Beat sugar and eggs together until light and lemon colored, about 3 minutes. Mix in liqueur, juice and peel. Beat in dry ingredients and stir in almonds. Mixture will be very sticky. Spray large baking sheet with non-stick coating. By spoonfuls transfer dough to baking sheet forming 2 14-inch long strips. Using floured hands shape each strip into 2 1/2 inch wide log. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Logs should be light golden and firm to touch. Transfer to cutting board and using a serrated knife, cut into 3/4-inch thick slices. Place a cooling rack on your baking sheet and arrange slices on top of the cooling rack, cut side down. Bake 11-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Can be stored in airtight container for a week. Makes about 40.

100 Flower Dandelion Muffins

100 Dandelion Flower Muffins

The curious name for this recipe comes from my own curiosity. I wondered just how many blossoms I would need to get about a cup and a half of petals. I decided to make muffins with some of the dandelions blooming in my yard. I have a lot of dandelions, and I wanted to use a really decent amount in my muffins. I started counting as I trimmed them and  stopped when I had a cup and a half. It turned out to be 100 flowers. So now, if you want to make this recipe, you will know when you can stop picking!!!

If you can’t beat them, eat them. I actually am a big fan of dandelions. I have organized dandelion cook-offs and edited a dandelion cookbook. I eat the leaves, and  a tea made from the roasted roots. The flowers are a wonderful ingredient in cooking, too. They are used to make dandelion wine and I enjoy adding them to fritters, pancakes and other baked goods. So here is my recipe for dandelion muffins.  They are pretty tasty, tender, light and not too sweet.

100 Flower Dandelion Muffins

2 c. flour

1 T. baking powder

½ t. salt

1 egg, beaten

1½ c. half and half

1/3 c. honey

¼ c. melted butter

1 t. vanilla

1 t. orange zest

1 ½ c. dandelion petals*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or grease them, set aside. In medium bowl, combine flour with baking powder and salt and set aside. In another bowl, combine egg with half and half, honey, butter, vanilla and orange zest. Beat by hand until well mixed. Stir in dandelion blossoms, then stir in flour mixture. Do not over mix. Stir just until flour is mixed in. Spoon batter into prepared pans, filling them about ¾ full. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Great served warm with butter and honey. Makes 12.

* To prepare the dandelion blossoms you want to trim of the tough base and just use the petals in the recipe. Some of the green sepals will get mixed in, and that is OK. Measure the petals after trimming. I picked 100 flowers and ended up with about 1½ cups of petals.

Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

Vanilla Cupcake with White Chocolate Frosting

I must admit to being a sucker for the classics. This cupcake is certainly a classic.

I normally top them with a vanilla buttercream, but decided to make a white chocolate frosting instead. Yes, I know white “chocolate” is not really chocolate. But when I say white chocolate, everyone knows what I am talking about.

I used a white chocolate bar- and broke it into pieces, before melting, but you could you use white chocolate chips instead. The frosting has a really nice flavor and fluffy texture, without being too sweet. These cupcakes are always a hit.

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.

White Chocolate Frosting

6 oz. white chocolate – if using bars, chop before melting
1 stick (4 oz.) cold butter, cut into cubes
1-2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Melt chocolate. I just melt mine in a microwave safe dish, but you can use a double boiler. Let chocolate cool down a little. Beat butter into the melted chocolate. Beat until smooth and then beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip until frosting is smooth and fluffy. I normally beat for 5 minutes or longer. If too thick, add a few drops of water or milk.

Spelt Bread

Spelt Bread

There is just something about homemade bread. I love the way the house smells when bread is baking. I decided to bake some spelt bread last night. It is one of my favorites.

I always have at least a few people who ask me what spelt is.

Spelt flour is a close relative to wheat. I love cooking with it because it is so easy to work with. It doesn’t require much, if any, kneading when you make yeast bread out of it.

Spelt has a texture much closer to white flour in baking other things, like muffins or biscuits. It does contain gluten, so it’s not an answer for people with gluten issues.

For those who do cook with wheat, spelt provides whole grain nutrition in a delicate, less heavy package. The bread I baked was so easy to make and gives me all the taste and fiber of whole wheat bread with less work.

Spelt flour is still tricky to find. Some larger grocery stores carry it, but you might have to go to specialty markets. Bob’s Red Mill is my usual source, so if your store carries their products, you should be able to locate it.

Spelt Bread

3 ¼ c. spelt flour
1 pkt. Active dry yeast
1 c. water
1/3 c. honey
¼ c. oil
1 t. salt
1 egg
Place 2 c. flour, yeast and salt in a medium bowl. Heat together water, honey and oil until warm (120-130 degrees) Add water mixture to spelt mixture and beat on low speed of electric mixer for 30 seconds, or until moistened. Add egg and beat on high 3 minutes. Stir in enough spelt to make a soft dough. Cover bowl with towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and use a rubber scraper to transfer dough into prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, another hour. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Cover top with foil during last 10 minutes of baking. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf.

Mushroom, Leek and Asparagus Quiche

Mushroom, Leek and Asparagus Quiche

This quiche is a nice combination of ingredients for any Spring gathering. Would be great for a brunch, too.

Mushroom, Leek and Asparagus Quiche

1 unbaked pie shell
2 T. oil or butter
1 c. sliced leek- white or light green part only
4 oz. sliced mushrooms- I used baby Portobello
8 oz. asparagus, trimmed and sliced
4 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
2 T. flour
3 eggs, beaten
¾ c. half and half
1 T. fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste

Roll out crust to fit a 9 or 10- inch tart pan. Place crust in pan and trim edges. Chill crust until ready to use. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In skillet, heat oil or butter and cook leeks until tender. Add mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms are golden. Set aside. Steam asparagus for 3-4 minutes, or until just tender. Set aside. Combine flour with cheese and toss to coat. Spread cheese in prepared tart shell. Top with the mushroom and leek mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the eggs with the half and half, dill and hot sauce. Pour over the mushrooms mixture in the tart shell. Add the asparagus. Place in preheated oven and bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Turn down heat to 350 and cook for 20-25 minutes longer, or until crust is golden and filling has set up. Serves 4-6.

 
* While I would normally use a more traditional pie crust, I ended up using the dough I normally use for my kolachy. It was leftover and seemed like a nice choice. The kolachy dough is 3 sticks of softened butter, 8 oz. of cream cheese and 3 cups of flour. Mix all ingredients until smooth and chill until ready to use. It was leftover, so hard to say how many crusts a full recipe would make. I would think you could easily get three crusts from one recipe. You can, of course, use your favorite pie crust recipe.

Honeymoon Soup

Honeymoon Soup

The silly name for this soup stems from a sandwich I made when I was a kid. I was making  my sandwich with Swiss cheese on toasted rye bread. I put one single slice of cheese on the bread and then proceeded to pile up all this lettuce on the sandwich.

What can I say? I really like a lot of lettuce on my sandwiches.

I cut it in half and was sort of struggling to eat it without the lettuce tumbling everywhere, when my father came in the kitchen. He said I had made a honeymoon sandwich, lettuce alone. Get it? Let us alone. It took a second before I got it. My dad was the king of puns. The name stuck.

I make lettuce soup from time to time. Mostly when I have a lot of lettuce I need to use up.  I have a big package of lettuce right now, so honeymoon soup is on the menu today.

The lettuce actually adds nice flavor to the soup. For this one, I decided to add the other elements of my sandwich by topping the soup with some shredded Swiss cheese and fresh rye bread croutons. The combination was really nice- kind of light and satisfying at the same time.

 Honeymoon Soup

6 c. stock- I used chicken, but vegetable or beef stock would work, too
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
6 c. shredded Romaine lettuce- you can use other lettuces – I often use Spring Mix
2 T. butter or oil
3-4 slices rye bread, cubed
1 c. shredded Swiss cheese- or whatever cheese you prefer

Heat stock and simmer carrots in stock until tender. While carrots are cooking, heat butter or oil in a skillet and toast the bread cubes in the skillet. Stir often so they don’t burn. You end up with nice rye croutons. You can just set them aside and add to the soup at room temperature. I prefer to warm them in the skillet right before serving.
Back to the soup- once the carrots are tender add the lettuce to the stock. It will wilt down a lot and cook quickly. Allow about 3-4 minutes for the lettuce to wilt down. Ladle the hot soup into serving bowls. Top with some shredded cheese and then the croutons. Serves 3-4.

Black and White Cookies – for the Eclipse!

Black and White Cookies

These lovely cookies are always a lot of fun to make and to serve. The name comes from the mix of both white and dark frostings used to decorate them. Black and White Cookies are a classic.  They are tender, cake-like cookies and one of my favorites.

After the cookies are baked, you brush them with both white and dark chocolate frostings. The effect is dramatic and tasty. If you have never tried one, you really should.

Black and White Cookies

1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter – room temp.
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. lemon extract or
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Frosting:
4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup boiling water
1 ounce bitter or semi sweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter until fluffy. Stir in eggs, milk, vanilla, extracts, until smooth. Fold in flours, baking powder, salt and stir until mixed. Using a soup spoon (or a small ice cream scoop) drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of room between them. Bake until edges are browned – 20-30 minutes.
Frosting: Place confectioner’s sugar in a bowl. Gradually stir in boiling water until you have a thick spreadable mixture. Remove half of frosting to a bowl and stir in melted chocolate. With a brush, decorate each cookie half with white frosting, half with chocolate. Let set until thoroughly dry.
About 4 dozen cookies.

10 Plants You Might Not Know You Can Eat

Lilac

I have posted this information before. I think it is information worth sharing again. You might have a fresh salad growing all around you, and not even know it.

A lot of people don’t realize how many common plants they can eat. I thought it might be fun to share a few of them with you. Some of these are plants we grow as landscape/ornamental plants. Others are more often thought of as “weeds”. All have one thing in common. They are edible.

Some you may already know. I hope I might show you a few edibles you didn’t know about before.

I tried to stick to plants that were easy to identify. If you are not sure what it is – don’t eat it. Don’t eat plants where pesticides have been sprayed, either.

With any luck, you have at least a few of these in your yard.

violet

Violets: Violet flowers are edible and used to decorate pastries and to make jelly. Did you know you can also eat the leaves? They are mild flavored- especially when young- and are a great addition to salads. Violet leaves are also high in vitamin C.

purslane

Purslane: The thick, fleshy leaves of purslane are easy to identify. Many vegetable gardeners make every effort to keep them out of their yards. Truth is, purslane is grown as a vegetable in many parts of the world. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads, can be cooked in a stir fry or just steamed as a fresh veggie. They can also be pickled. I make a salsa out of purslane leaves. They are crunchy with a slightly citrus flavor.

lambsquarters

Lambsquarters: Lambsquarters are one of my favorites. They sprout all over my yard and in pots as soon as the weather warms up in the Spring. The leaves can be eaten raw when young or cooked as they mature. They taste just like spinach and are even better for you. Plants can get quite large and provide an easy harvest of nutritious greens.

dandelion

Dandelions: We spend so much money trying to kill them. Sad because they are really a tasty green. Dandelions were brought to America by European immigrants as a vegetable. Their bitter greens can be an acquired taste. By combining the greens with certain foods you make them taste less bitter. Starchy foods like breads or potatoes, dairy products, tomatoes and vinegars all seem to tame the bitterness.  Dandelion greens can be eaten cooked or raw. Flowers are used to make jelly and wine and can be added to baked goods.

hosta11

Hosta: If you can get to them before the deer do, you will be pleasantly surprised. Hosta leaves are quite mild flavored, similar to Bibb lettuce. I add them to salads and even serve them with dips. The older leaves get tough so pick young leaves.

sweetpotato11

Sweet Potato Leaves: A friend from Hawaii first told me about eating  sweet potato leaves. The leaves are pretty mild flavored. I normally eat them cooked although I have friends that eat them raw as well. You can eat the leaves of all sweet potatoes, including ornamental types.

lilac11

Lilac: Lilac flowers are fragrant and edible. I use them every year to make lilac infused vinegar. They have a nice spicy taste that works well in the vinegar. Blossoms can be added to salads, too. This year I also made lilac jelly.

pigweed11

Redroot/Pigweed: This member of the amaranth family is distinguished by a reddish color to its roots. It has a spinach like flavor and can be cooked and used like spinach is any recipe. The plants can get several feet tall and often show up in places where the soil has been tilled.

tulips

Tulips: Tulips are more than pretty, they are also quite tasty. The petals taste like a mild flavored lettuce and can add a beautiful touch to salads. The bulbs are also edible but only part of them. The inner yellow core has to be removed first. We rarely eat the bulbs because to do so would destroy the plant. The petals, however, can be harvested and eaten year after year without harming the plant.

roses11

Roses:  Rose petals have been used to make fragrances for a very long time. The petals are also edible and can be added to salads and used to make jelly, syrup and of course, rose water. The hips are also quite edible. Rose hips are the round balls that are left after the bloom is spent. They are full of vitamin C and can be cooked and used to make tea and jelly.

This is far from a complete list. Just a few things from my yard that I thought you might have, too

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