Another Loaf: Apricot

I have not written nor baked in a while. We have been eating ordinary meals. You know, baked frozen fish, grilled chicken or burgers, frozen vegetables, scrambled eggs with onion and peppers, and open-faced grilled cheese with tomatoes. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a pinch! Sometimes I just do not feel like cooking, so when Hubby comes home he throws something together. The open-face grilled cheese with tomatoes are one of his specialties.

At my last camping weekend I brought along the Settlement Cookbook to look through. There are some bread recipes that looked good. Simple and straightforward breads, quick and raised. My mother had given me a paperback Settlement Cookbook when I got my first apartment. I knew how to bake but not how to cook. This book was my guide to cooking meat and vegetables. I remember making biscuit dough cinnamon rolls from this book. Unfortunately like most well-used cookbooks it fell apart and eventually I could not justify saving the torn thing. ūüė¶

At a tag sale (yard sale, garage sale, depending on what region of the country you hail from) there was this newly revised Settlement Cookbook. So I bought it for sentimental reasons. This edition was published in 1965, 1976.

I was originally looking at the banana bread since I had extra ripe bananas in the house. But I froze those so the pressure was lessened. I had some dried apricots so the apricot bread was my choice for the afternoon. I figure I have to bake while the weather allows.

Alterations to the recipe as pictured above are as follows:

  • why would one grind the dried apricots? I roughly chopped them.
  • I used 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour; to be healthy.
  • I did not have to strain the orange juice because the juice I like does not have pulp.

The batter smelled quite orange-y. The loaf came out very nicely colored and crunchy on the outside. The inside is quite nice with the squares of apricots and nuts throughout. For the future I might add a teaspoon of ginger and/or cinnamon for added kick!

I suppose spreading it with apricot preserves might be a bit too much!

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There’s a hole in my kitchen!

 

20170114_205124557_iosYes, there is a hole in my kitchen ceiling this weekend. Hubby put it there. We needed to check the plumbing from our less-than-two-year-old new bathtub. About a month after it was installed water came leaking down through the ceiling. We had the contractor bring his plumber back out but nothing was wrong. The water leak never happened again until this past week. We sort of, maybe, figured out what could have happened so off we go to the local hardware store for a plumber’s wrench. Hubby tightens a connection and we are hoping for the best. We have not tested it yet. Perhaps we should put a hinge on this panel of ceiling for easy access should it happen again?

Meanwhile, what to cook? What to bake? I have not gotten around to anything citrus-y yet even while the grapefruits, oranges, and lemons linger in the bottom of the fridge. But there are two jars of cherries in the pantry. But first…

Friday evening and what to have for dinner? There is an “emergency pizza” in the freezer but that does not appeal. Fish filet from a frozen box and what to serve with? Rice pilaf comes to mind. I go back and forth in my thinking about whether it should be sweet or savory. I pull out a bunch of ingredients:

  • nub of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 smallish carrot, sliced
  • tops of green onions, sliced
  • one clementine
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup banana peppers
  • 1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers, from a jar (not shown here!)
  • coconut oil for sauteing
  • soy sauce for seasoning
  • garlic infused beef broth for seasoning as well
  • brown rice, this is the kind that cooks in 10 minutes in boiling water

I basically just pulled out stuff I thought fit in a pilaf. I had mushrooms but they smelled funny so I did not use them. I must stop buying mushrooms unless I plan to use them right away. This was the second batch that smelled funny and had to be disposed of. Chop and mince and dice every thing to pilaf size. Saute everything while the rice is cooking. Add the raisins and clementine at the end. The amounts of the seasoning ingredients are up to you. The broth kind of brings it all together before adding the rice. It was very yummy!

And now for the weekend dessert. This is a cherry cobbler baked in a cast-iron skillet from America’s Test Kitchen. You can find the recipe¬†here. I promise I followed the recipe exactly. Well except for using a 10 inch skillet instead of 12 inch, having only 5 cups of cherries instead of 6 cups, and not having turbinado sugar. Isn’t it pretty?

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And tasty too! This was simple enough to make. One does cook the cherry juice into a syrup before adding the cherries and biscuit topping. I do not see how this would be any better in a larger skillet. Ten-inch is just the right size. The biscuits come together easily enough with buttermilk and melted butter. Sprinkling the sugar on top before baking gives a nice color and crunch. I used an organic fair-trade sugar from Aldi which has a slight caramel color. I will make this again even with fresh or other types of canned fruits. I may reduce the sugar a bit even though it was just 1/2 cup.The only real improvement needed was to have vanilla ice cream for serving.

Have a blessed week!

 

Everyday Table Bread…

On this cold New England winter-ish day, I bake bread. I also made a nice supper in the crock pot. Tomorrow I may even bake cookies.

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I sat at my kitchen table early this morning and wrote out my Christmas cards. Hubby has put the wreath on the front door and we play Christmas music. I have been looking at my cookbooks, not in them, just at them wondering about doing any Christmas baking. We did purchase Red and Green M&Ms so that is Christmas-y! We take the dog to a dog park. It is not crowded and is in a wooded area. Leo (our new old dog) is great. There was one other dog and Leo put up with the puppy’s antics. We also stopped at the Home Depot to buy a kitchen trash can with a lid because “you know who” thinks “dumpster diving” is productive daytime activity!

Back to bread. I have made this bread before but don’t remember how long ago. It has good stuff in it like cornmeal and oats. It is from the Soulard Market cookbook.

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast; I use 4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 2-3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • rolled oats

In the large mixer bowl, I combine the first five ingredients. In a glass quart measuring bowl I put the water, butter, and molasses. I microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes, 30 seconds at a time, until the mixture is about 125 degrees F. Between 120 and 125 was close enough for me. Stir that into the flour mixture. Add enough of the all-purpose flour to make a stiff dough. I then kneaded this with my bread hook for 5 minutes.The dough was not very stiff so I kneaded in about 1/2 cup more white flour. Still none to stiff but I did not want it to be too dry so I pushed the dough around the bowl while I sprayed with cooking spray so it would rise in a greased bowl. Cover this with a tea towel and let rise until double. In just one hour it had reached the top of the mixing bowl.

In reading the recipe it says to punch dough down and shape into round loaves. I don’t remember ¬†these as being free form loaves, so I spray my two loaf pans and shape into loaves. Now let these rise for another hour or so.

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These have risen above the rims.

These are nicely risen. Make an egg wash with the egg and tablespoon of water. Brush this on top and sprinkle oats on top. Bake in 375 degree F oven for 45 minutes. If making round loaves check after 35 minutes for doneness (is that a word?).

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A good and hearty bread.

Questions:

  • Why does my bread not stay as high and risen as before baking?
  • Do I use too much yeast?
  • Did brushing on the egg wash deflate them?

I suppose I could call the baking hotline or I’ll just internet search it. I could even look in some of my bread-baking cookbooks. Meanwhile we enjoyed this bread with supper and then for toast at breakfast.

 

 

Maple Pound Cake

I have been baking, and cooking, just not writing! We got a late start on camping this summer so are trying to make up with the weekends that are remaining through October. There’s something about camping that makes sitting around doing nothing very productive. This is compared to sitting around at home doing nothing which is just plain laziness.

I am back to using King Arthur Flour recipes. I have not yet taken up their current bake-along challenge but may do so in the future.The catalog flyer they send each month has a few recipes in it along with the promotions of their products for sale. This latest had a Maple Pound Cake with Maple-Rum Glaze recipe which looked and sounded tasty and seasonal. It is definitely fall in New England and the Sugar houses will be full of maple syrup soon. Here is the link to the recipe on their website. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/maple-pound-cake-with-maple-rum-glaze-recipe

I followed the recipe almost exactly because that is just the kind of baker I am! Mise en place is essential for baking and I failed to pay attention to the recipe and what ingredients I had in the house. What type of baker runs out of butter! I had only some butter so I substituted coconut oil. This was solidified being less than 70 degrees F in my pantry. I also made my own cake flour using the directions from Mark Bittman’s book How To Cook Everything.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour whisked with 1/4 cup cornstarch (OR 2 cups cake flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons coconut oil and 2 tablespoons butter (OR 3/4 cup butter, softened)
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark maple syrup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the recipe also calls for 1/4 teaspoon maple flavor but this I do not have)

Sift the first four dry ingredients in a bowl. Cream the coconut oil/butter with the brown sugar in separate bowl. To this add and beat eggs one at a time and then add the maple syrup. Now add half the flour mixture followed by the sour cream and vanilla. Then add the remaining flour. Mix just until combined.

You will have preheated the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly greased a 9-10 cup bundt pan. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until cake test done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out on a cake plate. My cake did not come out cleanly. I had to patch some of the pieces of the top (or bottom, depending on your perspective) of the cake back to the cake like a puzzle. Luckily this does not affect the taste. No Star Baker for me though!

While the cake is baking, or actually when you pull it out of the oven, make the glaze by combining 2 tablespoons butter (I found a partial stick of butter in the camping butter container), 1/4 cup maple syrup, and 1/4 cup rum (or water) in a saucepan. Bring this to a rolling boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5-8 minutes until thickens to a syrupy consistency. I forgot to check the consistency and just simmered it for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over the warm cake.

The directions say to let the cake cool completely before serving. What? Why?

I let it cool just a bit while finishing an episode of the current Binge Watch on Amazon!

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This is a flavorful and moist cake. Hubby asked for a piece to put in his lunch the next day. This recipe is a definite keeper. Ice cream or real whipped cream could be added but is not necessary.

 

 

Honey Oatmeal Muffins

Again I am using the Quaker Oats 1982 cookbook. I am not sleeping well and there are fresh blueberries languishing in my refrigerator. So I make and bake muffins in the middle of the night!

I choose this recipe because all I have is almond milk and am not sure if non-dairy milks can be substituted in baked goods with perfect results. I used almond milk in an egg custard once and it did not set as expected. But this worked out. The recipe called for 1/2 cup milk unlike my other favorite muffin recipe which called for one cup. This also uses vegetable oil so I imagine they are healthier than those made with butter.

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup honey

Mix the wet ingredients together in a 2 cup measure or other smallish bowl.

  • 1 1/2 cups oats, uncooked
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the dry ingredients together in your mixing bowl. To this I added 1 heaping cup fresh blueberries and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Stir gently.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until mixed. Bake in greased or papered muffin pan at 400 degrees F for 15-18 minutes. Makes 12.

Enjoyed these for breakfast. I will make these again.

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Supper

There’s some pork loin chops languishing in our freezer down in the basement. I recently bought a bag of plums that were a tad over ripe. My basil plant is growing by leaps and bounds!

So what’s for supper? Grilled pork with plum sauce served with peas with garlic, lemon, and basil. The latter was inspired by a recipe I read or saw but can’t remember where. The flavors sounded interesting.

To make plum sauce the plums must be cooked down until thick and saucy. Hubby says to leave the skins on for the color to be rich and dark and plummy.

I took 8-10 overripe plums and quartered them and removed the pit. I put these in my sauce pan (copper bottomed with the properly curved handle) and put this over medium heat. I added a splash of cranberry juice, about 3-4 tablespoons. This came to a boil and then I let it simmer until thick. I forgot to time it. To the thickened sauce I added zest from 1/2 lime (about 1/2 teaspoon) and the juice from that same half lime. And then a 6 inch sprig of rosemary. Continue to simmer, stirring until you smell the rosemary. This does not take very long.

Oh yeah, I forgot the messy part. When the plums are thick, I removed them from the pan and put them through a sieve to remove the skins. Very messy! I was thinking at the time that an old-fashioned ricer would be the perfect gadget for this job and that it was a shame I had given mine away in efforts to simplify my kitchen. So I am pounding on these plums with a wooden spoon and look up and what do I see? My ricer adorning the kitchen wall for a nostalgic decoration. Too late now, I think, and continue with the messy task. It gets done. I was surprised at how little of the skins were actually left to remove before finishing the sauce!

Leave the finished sauce in the pot to stay warmish until ready to serve.

Now for the peas. I used 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas. I cooked these in a small pot with a small amount of water to which I added one minced clove of garlic and the zest of 1/2 lemon. Cook for brief period of time, maybe 5 minutes on medium heat, and then add the juice of 1/4 lemon and a handful of basil, sliced into strips. I put a lid on the pot and let that simmer for about one minute.

This last minute may be eliminated in the future. The basil strips turned dark and I feared for the taste of the side dish. Turned out just fine!

Hubby grilled the pork and I plated our suppers. Take a look.

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Basically cook down the fruit. Add herbs and zest. Cook the peas. Add herbs and zest.

The plum sauce was very good. The leftovers can be served over a wedge of brie cheese with crackers. Good eating!