Cooking

Butterscotch Sauce

Butterscotch Sauce over Ice Cream

I was talking to some friends about ice cream sundaes and our favorite toppings. I had mentioned how much I loved a hot fudge sundae. My friend Jill said that she loved butterscotch sauce. I had to agree. I love a butterscotch sauce, too.

I had made butterscotch sauce before, but not in a very long time. I found my old recipe and made it. I thought it could be better, so I played around and tweaked it a little. The end result is bliss. Creamy, sweet, smooth and buttery with just a hint of saltiness.

This sauce is a great topper for ice cream, but is also a tasty sauce for cakes, and fresh fruit.

It is really easy to make, which is a nice bonus. Start to finish, this sauce can be done in about 10 minutes. No special equipment needed, either.

I used a heavy bottomed pan, which worked great. I didn’t want my sauce to scorch while cooking. I think I might have stirred it once, just to be safe.

The sauce will thicken when it cools down. Thickens even more once stored in the fridge. It is best served warmed up a little or at room temp.

So here is my butterscotch sauce recipe. Thanks Jill, for the inspiration.

 

 

Butterscotch Sauce

 

6 T. butter

½ c. half and half

½ c. brown sugar

1 t. molasses*

½ -1 teaspoon salt

1 t. vanilla

 

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pan. Add remaining ingredients, except vanilla, to the pan. Stir to mix well, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Sauce will thicken as it cools. Store in fridge and warm a little before using. Makes about a cup of sauce. Keeps for weeks in the fridge, but you’ll eat it long before that.

*The addition of a little molasses was because my original recipe called for dark brown sugar. I only had light brown sugar. I liked the flavor that extra molasses added to the finished sauce. Feel free to omit the extra molasses, or add a pinch more, depending on how dark you want your finished sauce.

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes

With strawberry season in full swing, I thought I would share another favorite strawberry recipe. These little shortcakes are as cute as they are tasty. You can have all the components ready, then just assemble when ready to serve. Fun to serve at parties.

I made the shortcake base with a scone recipe, and used an ice cream scoop to put the batter on the baking sheet. They ended up looking like little sandwich buns. Split and filled with sweetened strawberries, I replaced the top and added chocolate ganache and whipping cream to finish them off.

The scone is tender and not too sweet. Satisfying and light at the same time.

 

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes

The shortcakes
2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
½ t. salt
1 T. baking powder
1 1/4  c. heavy cream or 1 cup half and half
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sift together dry ingredients and gradually add cream to form soft dough. Stir mixture until it just holds together. Using an ice cream scoop place batter on baking sheet a couple of inches apart. You should get about a dozen. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden. Makes about 12. Cool on rack until ready to use.

The berries

2 lbs. strawberries, sliced thin

1/2 c. sugar, or to taste

Combine berries and sugar in medium bowl and place in fridge until ready to use. Berries should be in the sugar for at least a couple of hours and can even be prepped a day ahead to allow the juices to come out of the berries.

The ganache

1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips or 6 oz. semi sweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 c. heavy whipping cream.

Combine both in double boiler or in microwave and heat until mixture is just warm enough to melt the chocolate. Stir until smooth.

The whipped cream – use whipped cream, sweetened or unsweetened according to your taste.

Assembly: Slice the caps off the tops of the shortcakes. Place a generous spoonful of the sliced berries on the bottoms of the shortcakes and spoon some of the strawberry liquid over them as well. Place the tops of the shortcakes back on and spoon on a dollop of the chocolate ganache. I let me get to room temperature so it didn’t drip down exactly as I had planned. Top with some whipped cream and serve. Makes about 12.

Strawberries and Cream Bread

Strawberries and Cream Bread

I have posted this recipe before, but have been getting requests for it, so I thought it was worth sharing again. Since strawberries are in season, it seemed like the right time to post this recipe.

This is one of my favorite quick breads. The bread is tender and full of the sweet taste of fresh strawberries.

The batter will be very thick- don’t worry- it is supposed to be that way. When it cooks, the juices from the fresh berries keeps it moist. I always end up making a double batch, one loaf to eat fresh and one to give as a gift, or freeze.

This bread is fine just the way it is for dessert, or you can top slices with ice cream, whipped cream or some melted chocolate.

 

Strawberries and Cream Bread

1 ¾ c. flour

½ t. baking powder

½ t. baking soda

½ t. salt

½ t. each  cinnamon and nutmeg

½ c. butter, at room temperature

¾ c. sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

½ c. sour cream, room temperature

1 t. vanilla

1 c. fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped*

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 strawberries 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.

*  frozen berries are not recommended in this bread.

Lemonade Glazed Chicken

Lemonade Glazed Chicken

If any drink says summer, it’s lemonade. A tall, icy glass of lemonade is the perfect refresher on a hot summer day. Lemonade is also fun to cook with, especially during the summer.

I’ve been making my own lemonade concentrate for some time now. It’s just lemon juice and sugar. Sometimes I use honey, instead. I keep some in the freezer so I can make fresh lemonade whenever I want it.

I find myself looking for other ways to use the concentrate. I ended up making this glaze when I wanted a sauce to use on  chicken. I really liked it.

I’ve tried this glaze on chicken a couple of times. I could see it going well with pork or even seafood. The sweet/sour nature of lemonade works well as a base for sauces.

I used homemade lemonade concentrate, but store bought is fine, too. Here is the recipe.

Lemonade Glaze for Chicken, Pork, Seafood

2 T. oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 t. minced garlic
12 oz. lemonade concentrate recipe follows
¼ c. red wine vinegar
2 T. hot sauce, or to taste
1 T. prepared mustard
3 T. honey
1 t. cumin
1 t. ginger
2 t. salt, or to taste

Heat oil in pan and cook onion until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add remaining ingredients and cook until mixture has cooked down and thickened- about 10-15 minutes on medium high heat. Stir occasionally. You should end up with about 1½ cups of glaze.
To use: Brush on meat during last 15 minutes of cooking if baking or grilling. Add in last 5 minutes if cooking in a pan.

Here is the recipe for the lemonade concentrate.

Homemade Lemonade Concentrate

1 1/3 c. lemon juice- fresh or bottled

1 c. sugar*

lemon zest, optional

Combine ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved. Freeze until ready to use. Makes a little over 1 1/2 cups. To use: combine three parts water to one part  concentrate.

* You can use honey instead of sugar- but only use 1/2 c. honey as it is much sweeter than sugar.

Honey Ginger Mango Sorbet

Honey Ginger Mango Sorbet

Sorbet is a great dessert for warm weather.  When I saw Champagne mangoes on sale the other day, I knew I wanted to turn them into sorbet. I also picked up a fresh piece of ginger root, and decided to add some to the sorbet, along with some honey for extra sweetness. The flavors worked great together.

The secret to a creamy sorbet is pureeing the mixture twice. Once with the fresh fruit, then again once the mixture has frozen. Once pureed the second time, you can put your sorbet back in the freezer until ready to serve. It is a nice dessert to have on hand.

Sorbet can be served on its own, with cookies, cake or fresh fruit. You can also add a scoop of sorbet to your favorite Summer cocktail.

I like to keep several different sorbets on hand, so my guests can mix and match. Making a fresh fruit sorbet is also a way of saving seasonal fruits for use throughout the year.

Here is the recipe for the mango sorbet. You might want to add a little more, or less, honey to suit your own taste. Once frozen, the sorbet will not taste as sweet. The sweetness of the mangoes will also determine how much honey you add to your sorbet.

 

Honey Ginger Mango Sorbet

 

6 ripe mangoes

½ c. honey

1 T. fresh grated ginger

 

Remove peel and pits from mangoes. Puree the mangoes and add the honey and ginger. Freeze. After the mixture is frozen, place mango puree in a food processor and mix again until creamy. Serve, or place back in freezer until ready to serve. Makes about 1 quart.

Fruit Sodas

Homemade Fruit Sodas

Most days I am perfectly content to just drink water. But I understand that most people aren’t like that.

When friends stop over, I want to offer them something more than just ice water. Alternatives might include fruit juice or soda pop. I sort of combined the two into a fruity, fizzy drink that is fun to drink.

When it’s hot- and even when it’s not- cold, fizzy drinks are fun to drink. No special equipment is required to make these, and they are better for you than commercial soda.

I use 2 ingredients- club soda and either concentrated fruit juice or fruit syrups. In every grocery store you can find juice concentrates in the freezer section. Just place a spoonful of the concentrated juice in your glass- add club soda and stir gently to mix. Add ice and serve. Ready when you want it.

One benefit is that you can control how much juice to add. Make it more, or less sweet, to suit your taste. Sometimes I add just a little, so it is more like infused water than soda. If you like it sweeter, fine.

You can also use fruit syrups- sold in lots of grocery stores and beverage stores. Read the label. The ones I buy have 2 ingredients- fruit juice- which is listed first and sugar which is listed second. That’s it. No high fructose corn syrup or a bunch of artificial ingredients and most of what is in the bottle is juice.

I’ve make “soda” from frozen concentrated grape juice, orange juice, apple juice and pineapple juice. I’ve used fruit syrups made from blueberries, sour cherries, strawberries and blackberries. You can use them individually or do combos. All I did was combine them with soda water. They are fun for kids to make, too.

You can dress them up with fancy ice cubes. Just add small pieces of fruit or mint leaves to ice cube trays, fill with water, and freeze. Also nice when guests stop over.

Is this stuff better for you than water? I suppose not. But sometimes we all want something more than plain water. For me, this is a nice option- fizzy fruit juice.

Blueberry Galette

Blueberry Galette

I made this galette for dessert last night. It was very well received. I served it plain, but it could be served topped with ice cream or whipped cream, if you like.

A galette is a cross between a pie and a tart. Rather than placing the crust in a pie pan, the crust is rolled out and the fruit is placed in the middle. The edges of the crust are folded over the fruit, leaving them exposed in the middle.  Galettes have a rustic charm.

I had homemade blueberry pie filling, but you could use store bought, if you prefer.

The ingredients are pretty simple, pie crust and pie filling. You’ll need enough pie crust dough for one pie and one cup of blueberry pie filling per galette. After I folded over the edges, I brushed them with a little milk and sprinkled the edges with sugar, to help the crust brown nicely.

 

Blueberry Galette

Crust for one pie- recipe follows

1 cup blueberry pie filling

milk

2-3 T. sugar

Roll out crust like you would for a pie, about a 10 or 12 inch circle. Place crust on a baking sheet. Spoon filling into the middle of the crust. Fold edges of the crust over the fruit filling, leaving about a three inch circle exposed in the middle. Brush crust with milk and sprinkle  with the sugar. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool. Serves 4-6.

 

Blueberry Galette ready to serve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the recipe I used for the crust. It would make enough for about 3-4 galettes.  I was making tarts for another dinner, so I used some of the crust to make the galette. I use this dough for kolachy, too.

 

Eva’s Kolachy Dough

3 c. flour

1 t. baking powder

½ t. salt

1 c. butter

3 eggs

2 pkts. Yeast

½ c. warm milk

 

In mixing bowl, combine flour with baking powder and salt. Cut butter into flour until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Set aside. Place eggs in a small bowl and beat until smooth. In small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add to egg mixture and stir to combine. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined. If mixture is sticky add a small amount of flour. Roll dough out on floured board. Thinner the better, as this dough will puff some when baked. Unlike a traditional pie crust dough, this one does not need to be chilled. It is also very easy to roll out.

Rhubarb Glazed Chicken

Rhubarb Glazed Chicken

It is rhubarb season around here. Rhubarb is turning up at local farm markets and even in some grocery stores.

Like a lot of people, when I think of rhubarb, I first think of dessert, like pie or cobbler. But rhubarb’s tangy, tart flavor, lends itself to lots of savory uses.

I had some rhubarb and could not decide what to do with it. I chopped it up, and cooked it in a little water until tender. I ended up with 2 cups of cooked rhubarb.

I used this as the base for the glaze. I added the other ingredients, cooked it down until it was thick, and ended up with about 2 cups of sauce. It had a nice balance of sweet, tart and heat.

I used some of it as a glaze for chicken I was cooking. I froze the rest. It would also be good on other meats or even on grilled veggies.

Rhubarb Glazed Chicken

8 chicken thighs or 1 whole chicken, cut up

1 cup rhubarb glaze (recipe follows)

salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken pieces in roasting pan, season to taste and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and drain any fat out of the pan. Pour over the rhubarb glaze and return chicken to oven for an additional 35 minutes. Baste the chicken with some of the glaze in the pan and return to oven for 15 minutes more. Serves 4.

Rhubarb Glaze

2 c. cooked rhubarb

1 c. apple cider vinegar

1/4 c. brown sugar

2 T. honey

2 T. dried minced onion

1 T. hot sauce

1 T. paprika

2 t. minced garlic

1 t. Worcestershire sauce

1 t. cumin

1 t. cinnamon

salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Stir more often as mixture thickens. Cook until sauce has reduced to about 2 cups. Use as a glaze on meats and vegetables. It was great on chicken but would also go well on pork or duck. I could also imagine it on portobello mushrooms. Note: I liked the tang of it but you could make it a little sweeter to suit your own taste. Makes 2 cups. Will keep a few weeks in the fridge or can be frozen.

 

 

Herbal Cocktails

Lemon Verbena Gimlet

If you don’t think of using herbs in cocktails, maybe you should. They add a depth of flavor that can take things to a whole new level.

Of course, minty mojitos and mint juleps are classics. Still, there are even more ways you can use herbs in drinks.

I put together three recipes that use herbs in drinks. The classic mojito, a gin cocktail that uses lavender syrup, and a spin on a gimlet, using lemon verbena.

These are great drinks for summer, or any time, really.

Try adding other herbs to your cocktails. You might be surprised at just how tasty they can be.

You can plant a few herbs, too. That way, they will be handy for making drinks.

So here are the recipes. I hope you try them and enjoy them as much as I do.

Classic Mojito

 

10 mint leaves, I used a variety called Mojito mint, that has a slight lime flavor

½ a lime, cut in 4 wedges

2 T. sugar

1½ oz. rum

1 c. ice cubes

½ c. club soda

In glass place mint leaves and one wedge of lime. Muddle to release juices and bruise mint leaves. Add sugar and 2 more wedges of lime. Muddle until limes are crushed. Add rum, stir well. Add ice, stir and top with club soda. Garnish with lime wedge.

 

Lemon Lavender Cocktail

 

2 oz. gin

1 ½ oz.  lemon juice

1 ½ oz.  lavender syrup (recipe follows)

splash of club soda

some ice

one lemon slice, for garnish

Pour gin, lemon juice and lavender syrup into a glass and stir. Top with club soda, add some ice and garnish with a lemon slice.

 

For the lavender syrup:

¾ c. water

¾ c. sugar

1 tablespoon dried lavender buds

 

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Add lavender and cook on low heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes, just until it starts to thicken a bit. Then set to the side to cool. Strain out the lavender and refrigerate. Yields just under a cup of syrup.

 

Lemon Verbena Gimlet

 

1 cup water

¼ c. sugar

¼ c. torn verbena leaves

¾ c. dry gin

¾ c. club soda, chilled

¼ c. fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

Lemon verbena sprigs (optional)

Lime slices (optional)

 

 

Combine 1 cup water and sugar in a small saucepan. Rub torn verbena to bruise; add to pan. Bring sugar mixture to a boil, stirring gently as needed to dissolve sugar evenly; cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat; cool completely. Strain mixture through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Combine sugar mixture, gin, soda, and juice. Serve over ice. Garnish with verbena sprigs and lime slices, if desired.

 

My Mom’s Breaded Chicken

Mom’s Breaded Chicken

With the holiday weekend approaching, I thought I would share this recipe again. It always brings back great memories of childhood picnics/cookouts with my family. I love this recipe and I hope you do, too.

I loved the big family picnics we had when I was a kid. My Dad and I would go early in the morning to pick out our favorite location, and get tables arranged. Then he would start a fire in the grill and make us bacon and eggs in the cast iron skillet. Everyone started arriving soon after that. Well, not everyone. My Mom, and one of my aunts, would always come a little later. That is because they were finishing up the breaded chicken that was always a part of these picnics. She wanted it to be served nice and warm.

It would have been breaded the day before. My mom felt that when you breaded the chicken ahead of time it seemed to help the breading to stick better. I do it the same way today.

This isn’t fried chicken. The breaded chicken is lightly browned in a skillet, then finished off in the oven. It is crispy on the outside and nice and juicy inside. It is also a lovely memory for me of time spent with family. Here are the directions for how she made it.

 

Mom’s Breaded Chicken

 

Chicken pieces, I often use a whole bird, cut into pieces, or just thighs and drumsticks.

salt and pepper to taste

flour

Parsley

Paprika

Garlic powder

eggs

Milk

Bread crumbs

oil

 

Pat chicken pieces dry. Season with salt and pepper. In a bag, combine flour- about ½ c. per 8 pieces of chicken should be about right. Season flour with a little salt and pepper.  In bowl combine milk and eggs with the rest of the seasonings, including more salt and pepper. I use 1 egg with enough milk to make a thin batter for every 4-5 pieces of chicken. Keep in mind that the size of the pieces matters. Wings will need less batter than legs. Place bread crumbs in a shallow dish or in a plastic bag. Place a few pieces of chicken in bah with the flour and shake to coat, dipping off the excess. Then dip chicken pieces (1-2 at a time) in egg mixture, turning to moisten completely. Then place in crumbs and turn or shake to coat evenly. Repeat with remaining chicken until all of it is breaded.

At this time you can cover and refrigerate the chicken for several hours or overnight if desired. You can also go ahead and cook it right away. Mom suggests you bread the chicken the night before so it will stick better, but hey, you’re an adult, do what you want.

To cook the chicken, heat ½- inch of oil in a heavy skillet and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Foil a roasting pan and then place a rack inside. Once the oil is hot, brown the chicken pieces several at a time, turning to brown evenly. Place the browned chicken on the rack in the baking dish and continue to brown remaining chicken. Place chicken in oven and bake until chicken is cooked and juices run clear when chicken is poked. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pieces, how much you browned them and how many you are cramming in one pan. Baking time will be about 45 minutes. Check a large piece of chicken, near the middle of the pan to be sure.

This is a real summer favorite and the baking on the rack helps fat to drip off, giving you fried chicken flavor with fewer calories. This chicken can be served hot, warm or cold.