Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wedding Lemon Squares

I've been hired to bake!

The recipes is from the maternal grandmother of the bride, so I share it with you in her honor:

Lemon Squares/Bars

Preheat the oven to 350F. You will need a 9x9 baking pan.

1 Cup Flour
1/2 C Butter (if unsalted, add a bit of salt)
1/4 C Powdered Sugar

Lemon curd:
2 Eggs
1 Cup White Sugar
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
1 T Lemon Zest
2 T Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

Using your hands or a pastry blender, mix the flour, sugar and butter thoroughly.

Press into the baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until light brown on the top.

Meanwhile, gently mix the eggs and sugar with a whisk until thoroughly mixed, but try not to create too much foam. Add remaining ingredients and mix again until smooth. Let sit for a few minutes if there is foam.

Once the shortbread is done, pour lemon mixture over top and bake for 30 minutes or until beginning to brown.

Allow to cool, cut into squares or bars and enjoy!

For making it in large batches here is the recipe for a half-sheet pan:

4 1/2 C Flour
2 1/4 C Butter (if unsalted, add a bit of salt)
1 1/4 C Powdered Sugar

Lemon curd:
9 Eggs
4 1/2 C White Sugar
2 C Lemon Juice
4 1/2 T Lemon Zest
9 T Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt

Tips - when you pour the lemon mixture on top, make sure you stir it in the pan to get the lemon juice thoroughly incorporated with the egg, etc.
The larger pan will take longer to bake (20-25 minutes for shortbread, 30-40 minutes for the top)
Once the lemon mixture is on, bake covered with tin foil for the first 30 minutes. You'll know it is done because it will not be liquidy when you shake the pan a little.
Make sure to rotate the pan half way through baking time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Dinner with the Roommies

Our household likes to get together now and again for a meal... but we're all so darn busy it doesn't happen very often. We decided to do Kris Kringle and a meal to celebrate the holidays.

Apparently I'm the only one in the house who loves cauliflower, so my repeated ordering of it in our farm basket was, unbeknownst to me, not making everyone's day. I decided to show them a recipe that wasn't just cauliflower and wasn't indian food. Growing up we used to eat a lot of soup and it tended to be whatever we had on hand, potato leek, cauliflower, broccoli, you name it!

So I contributed Cauliflower Soup, artichokes and a Berry Betty.

Cauliflower Soup

1 small onion, diced
1 head cauliflower chopped
2-3 small yukon potatoes diced
1-2 pints, quarts, liters veggie broth (I like the no-chicken myself)
some oil
salt and pepper

In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan sautee the diced onion until translucent. Add cauliflower and let cook for about 5 minutes over low heat. Add potatoes and stock. Let simmer until the vegetables are tender enough to blend.
Using a hand blender or traditional one, blend until smooth. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Serve with a dash of nutmeg on top!

Artichokes are also a favorite from growing up - steam them over low heat for a loooooong time until you can easily pull out the leaves. Just don't burn yourself. Dip them in mayo, melted butter, whatever you think tastes good!

The rest of the meal was brown rice pasta with pesto and veggies, polenta sticks and a salad:

Brown Betty
A betty is something somewhere between a crisp and a cobbler, no oatmeal but less caky that a cobbler. Growing up my sisters and I would throw these together for a quick dessert. I always like to keep a bag of frozen berries in the fridge in case I need a quick and easy dessert!

1 bag (1lb?) frozen berries - I like TJ's berry cherry (cherries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) It could also be apples, peaches, etc.
1/2 C brown sugar
1/3 C cup flour (in this recipe I used mostly almond flour with a bit of Bob's Redmill Gluten Free Flour)
3-4 T butter or margerine

Pour fruit into a casserole dish or baking pan. Using your fingers mix the butter, sugar and flour together and sprinkle over top. This time I added an extra kick:

1 C pecan pieces
1/4 C brown sugar
1 T lemon juice

In a cast iron pan, brown pecan bits until warm and fragrant. Add brown sugar and let heat up. Add lemon juice and stir until pecans are fully coated in goodness.
Sprinkly this on top of the crust and bake for 10-15 minutes until the berries are bubbling!

Erica made some amazing chocolates that she shared with us:

Roommates having fun with gifts:
Grace and Erica

Jess trying on her new hat


I'm trying to do lots of baking for the holidays - seems fitting, doesn't it?

Tonight I made my first batch - Double chocolate oatmeal with walnuts. Yumyumyum!

Here's the recipe:

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 350F.

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1.5 tsp salt
6 T cocoa powder

1 Cup Butter
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla

2 Cups Rolled Oats (NOT quick oats)
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Slowly mix in flour mixture until smooth:

Add oats, chips and walnuts:

Drop teaspoons of cookie dough onto a buttered cookies sheet:

Bake for 8 minutes. Take out and let rest on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes:

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Next mission: peppermint bark and lemon squares (the lemon squares are for a wedding!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Favorite Breakfast

I struggle with breakfast. I can't do cold things in the morning and I'm trying to avoid wheat... doesn't leave me a ton of options.

Lately I've been experimenting with oatmeal. Healthy, nutrious, what's not to like? Well, it can be poorly cooked or bland...

I put 1/3 c rolled oats and a pinch of salt into a bowl and cover with water. Microwave for a minute or two, stirring so it doesn't overflow.

I like to add - raisins and a bit of butter
- cranberries and almond slivers
- chopped walnuts and candied ginger
- brown sugar (or maple syrup) and butter

Then splash some milk on and enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving feast!

I really enjoy making much of the typical Thanksgiving fare, and when I go to family meals, usually only get to contribute one or two dishes... This year I decided to invite friends over to continue the tradition. luckily I was able to sneak in some family too since my dad's family was doing it on Friday and only live an hour away.

So, I had 2 Americans, a Canadian and 3 Swede's over for Thanksgiving. Everyone brought something to share - names in italics - and our menu ended up being:

Stuffed Mushrooms (Dustin)

Turkey (only a little guy) w/gravy
Quorn "turkey" roast
Cranberries (Jocelyn)
Roasted Yams (Jocelyn)
Mashed Acorn Squash with Walnuts and Maple Syrup (Jocelyn)
Jansson's frestelse (Jonas and Frida)
Endive, Parsley, Radicchio and Pear Salad with Roasted Walnuts (Matthew)

Caramel Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

Hot Winter Pimms Punch
Limeade (Dennis)
Watermelonade (Dennis)

I forgot to take pictures :-( Bolded items have recipes to follow.

Cube one loaf of bread of choice, spread on a cookie sheet and bake on low temperature until stale, or leave out for a few days if you have time.
Saute diced onions, celery and mushrooms over low heat in some olive oil until translucent and tender. Mix with bread pieces in a bowl. Add diced fuyu persimmon pieces. Pour in enough stock to just get moist, unless you like mushier stuffing. Pour all into a greased casserole dish and bake until hot!

1 bag fresh cranberries
1 cup water (or enough to cover the cranberries)
1/2 cup sweetener (white sugar works well)
juice of one mandarin orange
Place all in a pan and simmer until thick. Sweeten to taste...

Cube yams. Toss in olive oil, thyme, garlic and salt. Roast at 350 until tender

Acorn Squash
Cut squash in half, place face down in a pan and bake until soft. Scoop out the meat and mash until smooth. Add maple syrup, toasted walnuts and salt.

Pumpkin pie filling
1.5 cups pumpkin puree
1.5 cups evaporated milk
3 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon, ginger,
1 tsp nutmeg, allspice
Or a bunch of pumpkin pie spice...

Mix all together and pour into a partially baked pie shell at 350 for 20 minutes with the crust covered, 15 minutes uncovered. Insert a toothpick, if it comes out clean, it's done.

Caramel Apple Pie Filling
5-6 Granny Smith apples cored and cut up
20 caramel candies, cut in half (I recommend Werther's brand)
Taffy (1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup butter, 1/4 cup butter, melted)
add into bottom shell in layers. Cover with top layer, poke a few air holes, brush crust with milk. Make sure to bake on a junky cookie sheet or over tin foil since it has a tendency to overflow.
Bake at 350, covered for 20 minutes, 20 minutes uncovered.

Hot Winter Pimm's Punch
1 part pimms
2 parts ginger ale
cinnamon sticks
cardamon or cloves
Heat in a pan and enjoy!