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Archive for the ‘desserts’ Category

Ebelskivers_7498

 

What are ebelskivers?  Not nearly as scary as the name sounds….. they are Danish treats that are sometimes called Danish pancakes or Danish puffs.  They are more puff than pancake as they are cooked into little round balls in a pan made especially for them.  My friends at ScanpanUSA (www.scanpan.com)  presented me with an ebelskiver pan some time ago and although I have used it I have infrequently made the dessert it is named for.  However, they are so easy to do and just enough work that I am willing to put my “no sweets diet” aside.  With this batch I made half with jam filling and half with bittersweet chocolate – I loved them both.  Next, I am going to try to make a savory version which I will report on once done.

I make this small recipe otherwise I’d eat too many of them, but you can easily double the recipe.  If you have children or a sweet tooth, I’d recommend doing that as these are rather like doughnut holes that you can just pop into your mouth.

 

Æbelskiversor Ebelskivers

Makes about 18

 

2 large eggs, separated

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup milk

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Raspberry or other jam of choice (you’ll need about ¼ cup)

9 bits of bittersweet chocolate or 3 bittersweet chocolate chips per ebelskiver

Butter for brushing ebelskiver cups

Cinnamon sugar or confectioners’ sugar for dusting

 

Place the egg whites in a small bowl and beat, using a hand-held electric mixer, for about 4 minutes or until stiff, but not dry.  Set aside.

Combine the flour, sugar and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl, whisking to blend well.

Combine the milk, cream, butter and vanilla with the reserved egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk to blend.  Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and beat to just combine.  The mixture should be a bit lumpy.

Fold the egg whites into the batter until incorporated, yet still light and airy.

Place the ebelskiver pan over medium-high heat.  Add a dab of butter to each cup and, using a pastry brush, lightly coat the entire cup with the melting butter.

When the butter bubbles, add about a tablespoon of the batter to each cup.  As the batter begins to set, place either a teaspoon of jam or the chocolate bits in the center.  When the batter is fully set, add a tablespoon of batter to cover the filling.  Carefully turn the cooked half and continue to cook until the batter has cooked through and the filling is hot and/or melted.  I use a long wooden skewer and my fingers – take care not to burn them – to turn the ball.

Remove from the pan and set on a wire rack.  Dust with sugar and serve warm.

Continue making ebelskivers until all of the batter is used.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you are a past reader you know that I love “nursery” desserts like custard, puddings, floating island – almost anything that would have been served in an English nursery.  The only ones I don’t like are those with gelatin bases or what I used to call wiggle desserts.  A grunt is almost one of those nursery desserts but it is a little more grown-up.  But how I love the names of old-fashioned fruit desserts like this one.  Buckles, slumps, pandowdies, fools, betties, sonkers, crumbles – all silly names for delicious fruit desserts probably most of them from early English cookbooks.  I particularly love a grunt (also called slump) in the summer as it can be cooked on the stove top rather than in the oven so you don’t have to heat up the kitchen on those hot days.  This is one of my favorite recipes —- summer or winter.  You can use almost any fruit that is in season.  If using harder fruits, such as apples or pears, pre-cook them a bit longer to soften.

 

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ cup half and half

¼ cup cooled, melted unsalted butter

½ cup water

½ cup orange juice

¾ cup granulated sugar

8 cups blueberries

Zest of 1 lemon

Pinch ground nutmeg

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Heavy cream or whipped cream for serving, optional

 

Combine the flour, light brown sugar and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl.  Whisk together to blend completely.  Add the half and half and melted butter and, using a wooden spoon, beat until a soft batter forms and no lumps remain.

Combine the water, orange juice and sugar in a heavy bottomed 12-inch frying pan.  Place over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved into the liquid.

Add the blueberries, lemon zest, and nutmeg, cover and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes.

Uncover and drop the batter by the heaping tablespoonful into the bubbling fruit. Continue dropping until all of the batter has been used and the entire top is almost covered in dumplings.  Lower the heat to barely simmer, cover and cook for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a couple of the dumplings comes out clean.

Remove from the heat and set on a wire rack to cool slightly.

Serve warm, dusted with confectioners’ sugar or with heavy cream poured over each serving or whipped cream dolloped on top.  You could also serve with vanilla ice cream or yogurt – do whatever your diet points you toward.

 

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IMG_7373

While in California with its wonderful farmer’s markets I was shocked to still see strawberries in late August.  We bought a couple of containers and they were so sweet and delicious that I decided to make some jam like my mom did.  We bought a flat – 12 containers – and I did just as she did.  Washed and stemmed each berry, threw them in a pot with the zest and juice of 1 lemon and probably about a cup or so of sugar.  Simply put the pot on the stove to simmer away just until the mixture was thick and jammy.  No pectin and just a trace of sugar.  I loved the result as you could taste the essence of the berries without the overload of sweetness from cups of sugar.  Unfortunately, this can only be done when the fruit is perfect, just as these late season berries were.

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cranberries-cooking_pb239355ranberry-chutney-pb239361

The winter holidays always mean cranberries to me – cranberry relish or chutney alongside the bird (whether turkey or something more exotic) is at the top of my list. My mom always served Cranberry Ice as an accompaniment to our Thanksgiving turkey so I’ve given you a bonus recipe here for it just because it is not a recipe I’ve seen much and I thought you might like it. Cranberry Ice never appeared any other time of the year – a reasonable guess would be because you couldn’t get cranberries at any other time in those days. As a child, the most amazing thing was that she served it at the middle of the meal in her mother’s coupe glasses. Only when I was very much an adult did I learn that this course is called an intermezzo, a term I’m sure my mom had never heard nor did she know the culinary etiquette that covered it. Just in case you’ve never heard the term it simply translates to a palate cleanser between courses – often a refreshing, not-at-all- sweet, sorbet. It is rarely served anymore, even in the fanciest of fancy restaurants.   How she came to do this I, regretfully, never asked. (As for the coupes they were slightly iridescent; the luminescent colors fascinated me, but not enough as an adult to keep the glasses after my mom passed away. Of course, this is a decision I now rue.)   The ice is refreshingly delicious and works just as well as a dessert, particularly with a bit of dark chocolate on the side. My mom’s recipe calls for 1 bag of cranberries which, I bet, in her day weighed 1 pound. However, the current 12 ounce weight seems to work just fine. Since you can now buy pure, unsweetened cranberry juice, you can probably use that also.

Makes about 3 pounds

1 large tart green apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

6 cups chopped fresh cranberries

1 cup chopped red onion

1 cup dried currants

½ cup chopped celery

¼ cup finely chopped preserved lemon, skin only

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1½ tablespoons minced garlic

2 cups light brown sugar

¾ cup dry red wine or any fruit juice you prefer (each one will add a different flavor)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon mustard seed

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

Combine the apple, cranberries, onion, currants, celery, preserved lemon, ginger, and garlic in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar. When blended, add the wine, cinnamon, mustard seed, cloves, cardamom, and cayenne, stirring to blend well. Bring to a boil; then, immediately lower the heat and cook at a very gentle simmer for about 30 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and is very flavorful.

Remove from the heat and pack into sterilized jars and tightly cover, if canning, or into nonreactive containers with lids for refrigerating. If canning, place the sealed jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from the bath and set on wire racks to cool before storing. If refrigerated, set on wire racks to cool before transferring to the refrigerator. Canned, the chutney will last for a year; refrigerated for 6 weeks.

Cranberry Ice

Makes about 1 quart

1 package fresh cranberries

3 to 4 cups sugar, depending on how sweet you want the ice to be

Juice of 6 lemons, strained

 

Place the cranberries in a large saucepan with cold water to cover over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; then, lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes or until all of the cranberries have popped and are soft.

Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a large, heatproof mixing bowl, pressing lightly on the pulp. You do not want to push any seeds through; the liquid should be clear. Discard the solids.

Add the sugar to the hot juice, stirring until dissolved. Add the strained lemon juice (the straining is important as you want the juice to be completely clear). Measure the juice and add enough water to make 1 gallon of liquid.

Pour the liquid into shallow 1 quart containers or into ice cube trays and place in the freezer. Freeze for about 2 hours or until almost completely frozen.

Remove from the freezer and place in the bowl of a heavy-duty standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle (or a food processor fitted with the metal blade). Chop into chunks to facilitate beating. Beat or process until the consistency of sherbet.

Use immediately or return to the freezer for no more than an hour or it will get too hard to serve easily. If it does get too hard, beat or process again. You can also freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker following manufacturer’s directions for freezing sorbets.

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Clara_Thankful

 

This is the day when we should all take the time to remember the blessings in our lives.  I know that many people begin their Thanksgiving dinners by asking everyone around the table to express their gratitude for the goodness in their lives – a wonderful way to acknowledge what we often forget.  I love Thanksgiving not only for the warmth and hearty meal that it brings but because it is not specific to any religion so it can be embraced by people of all faiths, races, and ethnic backgrounds.  This year with so much conflict in the world and so much divisiveness in the United States it is more important than ever that we take the time to convey our thanks for any evidence of goodness that we see in the world.  Gratitude uplifts our thoughts, encourages a new outlook, enables friendships to grow, and enriches our lives in ways we don’t expect.  It is about kindness – it is an unselfish act of grace that we should all be willing to share.  Happy Thanksgiving.

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Fudge_DSC_4505

 

When I was in my full-blown homemade Christmas celebration years, I would make lots and lots of candy. The candy was always a hit simply because most people had never tasted homemade. Some of it came from my childhood – my mom’s favorites were popcorn balls, bourbon balls, and divinity. Of her favorites, I only liked popcorn balls which I often used as tree decorations. Divinity was too sweet – even for me – and I have never liked any sweet that is flavored with alcohol. And most of the others were recipes I had gathered from old cookbooks or good home cooks. Peanut brittle and chocolate fudge were on my top-of list. Of all of these goodies, chocolate fudge is the only one that I continue to make every Christmas. It is easy to make, the recipes yields quite a bit (the amount depends upon how small you cut the squares) and is always a welcome holiday gift.

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (bits or a block chopped into small pieces, use the

highest percentage you can find to help cut the sweetness of all of the sugar)

2 cups toasted walnuts or pecans, optional

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

20 large marshmallows

4 cups sugar

Two 5-ounce cans evaporated milk

Lightly butter a 6 cup baking pan (square or rectangular) or a platter. Set aside.

Combine the chocolate with the nuts, if using, butter, and vanilla in a large heat-proof mixing bowl. Set aside.

Combine the marshmallows and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the evaporated milk and place over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Continuing to stir, boil for exactly 6 minutes.

Immediately remove from the heat and, beating constantly with a wooden spoon, pour the hot mixture into the chocolate mix. Beat vigorously for a few minutes or until the fudge is creamy. Quickly scrape the fudge into the prepared pan or platter, pushing slightly with the back of the spoon (or a spatula) to spread the fudge evenly.

Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting the candy into small squares. Store, in layers separated by waxed paper, for up to one week or, refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving

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Griddle Scones_DSC_7141

 

This recipe comes from An American Family Cooks, my family cookbook which is published by Rizzoli. I will, from time to time, share recipes from the book. If you enjoy them and would like more, the book can be ordered from your local bookstore, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.

This is my oldest family recipe. Unfortunately I did not know my mom’s mother who brought the recipe with her from Scotland where it had been taught to her by her Aunt Ann. The recipe card still reads “Gram’s Aunt Ann.” These scones would not be recognizable as such in modern bakeries that bake giant, fluffy fruit-filled mounds called scones. Most scones today have absolutely no relation to these flat, griddled gems which are somewhere between pancakes and biscuits. In fact, the recipe card says “Have griddle same heat as for pancakes and fry on a dry griddle.” They should be eaten hot off the griddle with sweet butter and homemade jam.

 

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 scant teaspoon baking soda

Sugar to taste

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons butter

Enough buttermilk to make a soft dough, usually about 1 cup

 

Combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Add the sugar and salt – I use about 2 tablespoons sugar and no more than ¼ teaspoon salt. Cut in the butter using your fingertips.

Slowly add the buttermilk, beating with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.

Lightly flour a clean work surface.

Scrape the dough onto the work surface and divide it in half. Pat each half into a fairly neat circle about ¼-inch thick and then cut each circle into 6 wedges.

Heat the griddle over low heat until very hot.

When hot, add the scones, a few at a time, and cook for 3 minutes to just set. Then, increase the heat slightly and cook for another 4 minutes or until the dough begins to puff up a bit and the underside has begun to color. Using a spatula, turn and cook for an additional 6 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Watch carefully, adjusting the heat as necessary, to keep the scones from burning.

Remove from the heat and serve hot with butter and jam.

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