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Archive for July, 2008

Whenever I want to fix a big breakfast on the weekend, I think of sausages and pancakes, AKA “flapjacks”. The sweet maple syrup and slightly sweet pancakes need a good helping of savoriness to counteract the sugary food. I always make my pancakes from Bisquick, instead of pancake mix so I can control the amount of sugar. I usually use less than called for in the recipe on the box so they aren’t sickly sweet.

I fix “little piggies” which is what my mother always called sausage links. I can get up earlier than everyone, simmer the sausages in water, then stick them in a low oven to keep warm while all the lazybones sleep. Then I get the pancake ingredients ready, haul out the two griddles I have, and get everything else all set.

My sister used to have a neighbor, Larry, who must have been dyslexic or something like it. He always called pancakes “pan-a-kees”. We thought that was so funny that we now refer to pancakes as pan-a-kees. Because it has now become a habit, we probably have used the new name in front of people who now think we are out of our ever-lovin’ minds. Let that be a lesson to you. DO NOT adopt the name pan-a-kees!

One Thanksgiving found my husband and I spending the holiday in a quiet cabin hideaway for a few days. A short trek to the lodge for meals was enjoyable, even through the frost and light dusting of snow. One morning we were served pumpkin pancakes. They were delicious and a special treat.

Once home, I found several recipes for pumpkin pancakes and the following one, from Martha Stewart, is my favorite. The recipe calls for pumpkin puree. I use Libby’s canned pumpkin. You will have most of the can leftover so find another recipe that uses the puree so as not to waste it. I usually make a pumpkin soup a few days later to take advantage of the available puree. I will try to provide a soup recipe later.

In the meantime, get some good sausage cooking, and try these pancakes. Hope you like them.

 

PUMPKIN PIE PANCAKES

Whisk the following ingredients together:

1 1/4 c. flour

2 T.sugar

2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. ground ginger

1/2 t. ground nutmeg

1/2 t. salt

pinch cloves

Now whisk the rest of these in another bowl:

1 egg

6 T. pumpkin puree

2 T. melted butter

1 c. milk

Fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Butter or oil your skillet or griddle over medium heat. Pour 1/4 c. batter/pancake onto the hot surface. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve with butter and syrup.

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Summer – high temperatures and high humidity. A sense of laziness sets in with the heat of the day, sapping any strength I might have left after watering, deadheading flowers and general tidying up outside.

What I want for lunch is something easy, cool, and above all, tasty. No cooking allowed. Besides, I may very well have just enjoyed the kitchen finally cooling down after baking a loaf of No-Knead Bread. A 450 degree oven is easy to endure in winter. In summer, it’s another thing altogether.

Sometimes, when I have great fresh tomatoes, I just make one of James Beard’s favorite sandwiches, sliced tomatoes with mayonnaise on toasted English muffins. I may add some basil now and then. Sometimes, I like a nice mound of tuna salad, nestled among tomato wedges, and drizzled with lemon juice.

Once in a while, I will use some tortillas and make a wrapped “sandwich”. Here’s the recipe for one from my daughter who used to make these when she worked in a gourmet market and deli.

Deli Roast Beef Wrap

flour tortillas

soft cream cheese

very thinly sliced deli roast beef

roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry

coleslaw

Spread cream cheese on tortillas. Lay slices of beef on the cheese. Cover with strips of red pepper and put a little coleslaw on top. Wrap them up and chow down!

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From Food and Wine magazine, the August 2008 issue, I found an article with  a delicious recipe for a baked berry dessert with a variety of options for the topping. 

With photos of the four options, I found it difficult to choose which one to make first. Believe me, I will work my way through all four. 

I chose to make the Mixed-Berry Spoon Cake, leaving the Cobler, Crumble and Pound Cake Crisp for later, after about 50 miles of jogging/walking/running or all three! Save room after dinner to add a dollop of whipped cream or scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

With high summer upon us, it’s easy to find fresh, beautiful berries. Take advantage of these powerhouse fruits, filled with vitamins and fiber, as well as great taste.

 

MIXED-BERRY SPOON CAKE

 

8-10 SERVINGS (I think it’s more like 15 servings)

Filling:

2 pounds of strawberries, quartered and hulled

12 oz. blackberries (I used black raspberries)

12 oz. raspberries 

(I added a handful of blueberries)

3/4 c. sugar

2 T. cornstarch

BATTER:

1 1/2 c. flour

1 c. sugar

2 T. finely grated lemon zest

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1 t. kosher salt

2 eggs

1/2 c. milk

1 t. vanilla extract

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted (I used salted butter, and reduced the above salt a bit)

 

1.  In a bowl, toss the berries with the sugar and cornstarch and let stand while you make the batter (about 10 minutes).

2. Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar, zest, baking powder and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and vanilla. Whisk the liquid into the dry ingredients until evenly moisteded, then whisk in the melted butter until smooth.

3. Spread the filling in a 9 X 13-inch baking dish. Spoon the batter over the top of the berries, leaving small gaps. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, until the fruit is bubbling and a toothpick inserted into the topping comes ot clean. Let cool for 1 hour before serving. (Be warned – it may spill over onto your oven floor. Protect it if you want.)

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I used some of the bountiful tomatoes yesterday to make a frittata for my knitting buddies who were here for lunch. I also was able to use a good handful of fresh herbs from my garden to add that extra “oomph” to the dish. Easy, easy, easy. 

 

I found the recipe in the August, 2008, Good Housekeeping and heartily recommend it for any meal, morning, noon, or night. I warmed up the leftovers today for lunch and it was nearly as good as it was yesterday. Give it a try for a meatless meal sometime.

 

CRUSTLESS TOMATO-RICOTTA PIE

Serves 6, maybe only 4 really hungry folks

1 container  (15 oz.) ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)

4 large eggs

1/4 c. grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

Salt and Pepper

1/4 c. milk

1 T. cornstarch

1/2 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/2 c. loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 lb. ripe tomatoes (3 medium), thinly sliced*

1. Preheat oven to 375. In large bowl, whisk ricotta, eggs, Romano, 1/2 t. salt and 1.8 t. pepper until blended.

2. In a measuring cup, stir milk and cornstarch until smooth; whisk into cheese mixture. Stir in basil and mint.

3. Pour into a nonstick 10-inch skillet with oven-safe handle. Arrange tomatoes on top, overlapping slices if necessary. Bake pie 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned and set around edge and center is puffed. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


*I used 1 large tomato and it was plenty.

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OK, it was really lemon-limeade, but the principle is the same. I bought a bag of limes and then found this recipe that is a real “keeper” for me.

 

I like lemonade but it often gives me a sore throat. This Lemon-Limeade drink is still tart, but easier on my tender little throat. The recipe calls for the juice of 4 lemons and 4 limes. If I didn’t have my handy dandy electric citrus juicer, I wouldn’t have bothered. My main squeeze machine made short work of it and I got every blessed drop of juice from the fruit. Let’s hear it for technology!

 

By the way, if you use lots of lemons or limes, buying them by the bag is well worth it. At 75 cents or more per lemon or lime here in Ohio, where citrus trees do not grow, making more than a glass or two of lemon/limeade would be pretty darn expensive. But the bags I bought yesterday were about $2.50 each and I have enough fruit to make enough juice for twelve, maybe more.

 

I had guests for lunch yesterday and, with several dishes to prepare yesterday morning, I was glad that I could prepare most of the lemonade the day before. All I had to do was add the club soda and ice at the last minute. It was a most refreshing thirst quencher and pretty to boot.

Here’s the recipe, with thanks to Good Housekeeping, August 2008, issue.

LEMON-LIMEADE

 

Makes 6 drinks.

1 c. sugar

1 c. water

6, 2″ strips of both lemon and lime peel

4 lemons and 4 limes, 1 more of each for the garnish

1 c. cold water

1 c. club soda or seltzer


1. Combine 1 c. water and 1 c. sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

2. With vegetable peeler, remove 6 (2 inch) strips from the lemons and limes

3. Squeeze the lemons to get 3/4 c. juice. Squeeze the limes to get 1/2 c. juice. Set aside.

4. Add the lemon and lime peels and the 1 c. cold water to the sugar water in the pan. Transfer to a pitcher and chill for 2 hours.

5. Slice the extra lemon and lime. Stir into the pitcher along with the lemon and lime juices and 1 c. club soda. Serve over ice. 

 

By the way, the rest of my menu was:

     Tomato Ricotta Frittata

     Tossed Salad with Raspberries and Raspberry Vinaigrette

     Warm No-Knead” Bread

     Mixed-Berry Spoon Cake with Whipped Cream

These recipes are available at this blog. Just click on one of the recipes above and presto – you’re there.

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Just a Trifle

Now that summer is is full swing, fruits and vegetables are appearing aplenty in groceries and farmers’ markets. We visited our local farmers’ market over the weekend to sample some of the beautiful fresh produce. We bought peas, zucchini and summer squash, and were tempted to get some sour cherries for a pie but will put it off until next week.

We are members of a community supported agriculture program and receive a 20 pound box of fresh organic produce each week. Let me say it is a challenge to have a relatively huge supply of vegies and fruit delivered at 6:30 on a Friday night. We have to wash it store it appropriately. Then we have to try to figure out what to do with it all before it spoils. It’s really not that difficult. When you think how long grocery store produce sits in trucks, planes, trains, boats, and finally grocers’ shelves, you really have a longer storage time with local organic produce. It arrives fresher, safer, tastier. Wow! I feel very lucky to have this service provided.

This week we received among other goodies, two heads of purple cabbage. That will be a challenge. It’s a good thing cabbage will keep for a while, although I do hope I don’t get another two heads this week.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to fresh fruits, there are tons of recipes for delicious desserts. One of my favorite summer delights is a fruit trifle. Cake, fruit, soft, sweet cream – what’s not to like?

If you don’t have a trifle dish, haunt garage sales or kitchen supply departments for a clear glass bowl with straight sides. A footed one makes the prettiest presentation, but is not necessary. My bowl doesn’t even have straight sides. My trifles may not look perfect, but they taste perfect.

I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but my eternal thanks go out to the originator whoever and wherever he or she is.

 

SUMMER FRUIT TRIFLE

6 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 T. sugar

1 c. whipping cream

1 t. vanilla

1 pound cake in 1/2″ slices

1/2 t. cinnamon

1 T. sugar

3 nectarines, sliced thinly (I have used peaches instead)

1/2 pt. raspberries, or more

1/2 pt. blueberries, or more

1/4 c. apricot jam

2 T. dark rum

1. Beat the softened cream cheese until light. Gradually beat in the cream and vanilla until medium stiff peaks form.

2. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together. Carefully fold in the nectarine slices and the berries and set aside

3. Mix the apricot jam and the rum.

4. Arrange half of the cake slices in the bottom of a trifle dish. Brush with half of the jam mixture. Cover with half the fruit. Top with half of the cream. Repeat the layers. Refrigerate 3-8 hours.

5. Garnish with more fruit if desired.

 

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