Buttermilk Pancakes

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Pancakes are one of the ultimate comfort foods.  Everyone loves pancakes.  Crepes.  Swedish pancakes.  Blintzes.  Latkes.  Pannukakku.  Kropsu.  My grandmother made the best oven pancakes (pannukakku).  Sometimes with egg, sometimes potato.  Potato were my favorites.  She made them in metal pans with a design in the bottom.  The pancake would puff way up in the oven.  We would eat them warm with butter and sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top.  We would eat them cold.  My mother made us pancakes with left over mashed potatoes.  She made a regular egg, flour, milk batter and added any leftover mashed potatoes we had.  Sometimes she would make my little brothers pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse.  We ate her pancakes with maple syrup.  For years I made my mother’s “mashed potato pancakes.”  They were my daughters favorite.  She loved to make  pancake sandwiches with any leftovers.

A couple years ago I got this recipe for buttermilk pancakes from one of my daughter’s friends.  He was making them for his family so I decided to try them.  I’ve been making them ever since.  Occasionally when I have left over mashed potatoes I revert to my mom’s concoction.  But otherwise, these buttermilk cakes are my go to recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup AP flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

2 T melted butter plus more for the griddle

1 1/8 cup buttermilk

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Combine and whisk the dry ingredients together.  Whisk the egg,  Combine the wet ingredients.

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Combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Do not over mix.  The batter will look a little thick and lumpy.

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Heat the griddle and brush with butter.  Use a 1/3 cup measure and scoop batter onto the griddle.  Cook 1-2 minutes per side.

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Add fresh or frozen blueberries, chopped pecans, grated Apple, or chocolate chips if you’d like.

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Serve with warm maple syrup, sliced banana or strawberries, meat of your choosing, or an egg.

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NOTE:  This recipe makes approximately 8 pancakes.  If you have guests and want to double or triple the recipe that works.  Keep pancakes warm in the oven until you’re done flipping and you can all enjoy eating together.  I’m sure that this batter can be made into Mickey Mouse cakes as well!  Make a memory with your pancakes!

Tomato and Cheese Tart

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I have taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging. Not from cooking and baking. But from blogging. My father was visiting for a couple of weeks and I made a lot of very basic meals that he really likes. Potatoes in various forms, pork chops, baked ring bologna, fish, spaghetti and meatballs. And I didn’t blog those dishes. I also spent quite a bit of time recently in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with my dad and cooking in his kitchen is quite challenging. No good chefs knives, an electric stove, and odds and ends of cookware…never exactly what you’re looking for.  You need to be cautious of expiration dates and the spice cabinet has salt, pepper, garlic, Lawrys, cinnamon sticks that should only be used for art projects, and a huge jar of mustard seed. Actually I SHOULD blog from his house because cooking there is more of a challenge but there is also no internet.   Now I’m back home and back to experimenting with recipes as well as blogging old favorites.   In a recent issue of one of my many cooking magazines I found a recipe for a Tomato, Bacon, and Gruyere Tart. I first made this as a savory breakfast dish for guests and later made it as a dinner dish with the help of a friend. Both times I modified the recipe. More modifications the second time. But both times it was absolutely yummy.   Both times I doubled the recipe and made two tarts.  The ingredients listed are for two tarts.

Ingredients:

2 thawed Puff Pastry sheets

1/2 pound bacon cooked crisp, drained and crumbled

2 cups shredded gruyere cheese

1 cup shredded asiago cheese

3 thin sliced heirloom tomatoes

1/2-1/4 cup diced onion

1/2 cup chopped baby portabella mushrooms

1/2 cup thin sliced fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of water for brushing the pastry

(The second time I made it I added the onions and mushrooms.)

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Preheat your oven to 400.

Roll out the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface into approximately a 10″x14″ rectangle and transfer to a backing sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Shred the cheeses.

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Leaving a couple inch border on each side sprinkle each sheet with half of the cheeses.   Top with the crumbled bacon, onion, and mushrooms.

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Using a sharp knife or mandolin slice the tomatoes thinly. If you are using heirlooms alternate colors.

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Fold the long sides over and cut small vents. Fold the short ends a little and pinch them together.   Brush with the egg wash.

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Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.   Enjoy every bite. We did!!

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When I served this for breakfast we has toasted cinnamon bread and fresh fruit.

This recipe is only limited by your imagination. You can change up the cheeses and add other veggies like thin sliced summer squash, artichokes, spinach or kale. I think I’m going to make it with gruyere and blue cheese next time.

 

 

 

Strawberry Jam with Balsamic

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One of the best things about this time of year is all the fresh local produce. And it just happens to be strawberry season in Michigan.  Last year I made strawberry freezer jam. This year I decided to do cooked jam. I did my first batch with lemon juice and lemon zest and two batches with balsamic vinegar.  With all the sugar the balsamic vinegar gives the jam just a little kick.  The Ball canning recipe says, “balsamic vinegar accents the strawberry flavor and gives the jam a robust taste.”  They are right. It’s a perfect addition.

Ingredients:

5 cups “smashed” strawberries

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice + zest of one lemon

OR

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice and 3 T balsamic vinegar

1 pkg fruit pectin

7 cups granulated sugar

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I used the old fashioned water bath. The first thing you need to do is put your clean canning jars into the water bath along with the lids and rings, crank up the heat and sterilize everything. I leave them in the water bath while I’m cooking the jam. Check your jars carefully before putting then in for any cracks or little chips on the lips of the jars which will prevent a proper seal.

Wash, hull and halve the berries. I use my potato masher to smash them up some.

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Once you have 5 cups of smashed berries add the lemon juice and lemon zest OR the lemon juice and balsamic. Stir to combine and put in a heavy kettle.  Gradually stir in the pectin.

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Cook over high heat stirring constantly until you can no longer stir away the boil.

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Add all 7 cups of sugar at once stirring to dissolve.

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Return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for one minute stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. If necessary skim off any foam. Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.

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I use a canning funnel so I make less of a ladling mess.   I still make a mess. But the funnel helps. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth, center the lid on the jar and tighten the band. Repeat until all of the jam is jarred. If, at the end of ladling you don’t have a full jar, put the last of the jam in a container and refrigerate once it cools. Process the jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  The water should be about an inch above the tops of the jars.  After 10 minutes remove jars and cool. Now you can enjoy your homemade strawberry jam all through the year.

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We had some this morning on a slice of awesome Old Country Rye that we bought from the Trenary Bakery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A good strong cup of coffee and toast with strawberry jam…a perfect breakfast.

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NOTE:  One of the things I learned while making three batches of this jam is that a ten pound bag of sugar is almost exactly 21 cups.  And 7 quarts of strawberries equals about 15 cups of smashed berries.

Eggplant for Breakfast

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I rarely watch Rachael Ray but on a cold, stay at home, afternoon last week we were watching. And Rachael made her husband an eggplant breakfast. Eggplant, wilted kale and spinach, pancetta, and poached eggs topped with a bechamel sauce. This is my own interpretation of Rachael’s eggplant breakfast which was our breakfast Monday and our dinner tonight. It’s our new favorite.

Ingredients:  (Breakfast for two)

Eggplant slices

1/4 cup of flour

2 eggs beaten

1 cup panko crumbs

1 cup asiago grated cheese (divided)

4 T olive oil

oven roasted tomatoes (see my October 27, 2014 post)

Bacon fried crisp

4 eggs

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Slice your egg plant rounds about 1 inch thick. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Dip rounds in flour, then egg, then in panko crumbs mixed with 1/4 cup grated asiago cheese.

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Fry until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towel and keep warm in the oven until assembly.

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Fry your bacon until it’s crispy, unless you like it more flexible. Once it’s cooked to your liking put it on a plate lined with pepper towel and keep it warm in the oven until assembly.

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Cook the eggs to your liking. Poached, over easy. Whatever you prefer.

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Now you’re ready for assembling. First the eggplant, then the tomatoes, then the bacon, then the egg, and finally a generous sprinkle of the asiago cheese.

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And there you have it. Simple. Delicious. Even a tad bit elegant.

I have always liked eggs Benedict but ask for my hollansaise on the side. Some of you may prefer this dish with the bechamel. You’re welcome to make whatever modifications suit your taste.   To me the key is building on the eggplant.

Serve this with some toasted sourdough, a dish of fresh fruit and maybe a mimosa.

 

Pulla – Finnish Cardamom Bread

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Okay!  It’s the Finnish Dish and finally!  A real Finnish dish. My grandmother used to make it best. She would make several loaves at a time and we would enjoy a slice or two with coffee. Whole cardamom seeds are a must vs ground cardamom. This bread reminds me of the unique way my grandfather used to drink coffee. Grandma always made coffee on the stove top in a percolator. No Mr. Coffee, Bunns or Keurigs. So the coffee was VERY hot. My grandpa would pour coffee from his cup into his saucer, balance the saucer on one hand and drink it with a lump of sugar in his cheek and a slice of buttered pulla to go with his coffee.   But I digress. Let’s make a loaf.

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2 tsp dry yeast

3/4 cups plus 2 T milk

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 T sugar

1 T whole cardamom seeds

2 eggs beaten

4 T unsalted butter melted

egg glaze made with 1 egg yolk beaten with one T water

Sprinkle yeast over warmed milk and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center and pour in dissolved yeast. Use a wooden spoon to draw in enough flour to form a soft paste. Cover the bowl with a dishcloth and let it sit for 20 minutes until frothy and risen.

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Add the sugar, cardamom seeds,  beaten eggs, and melted butter to the flour well. Mix in the flour from the sides to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, shiny and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or you can knead in a mixer with a dough hook. After kneading put the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with a dish towel, and let it rise until doubled in size. About 2 hours.

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Preheat oven to 350. Punch down and let the dough rest 10 minutes. Divide into 3 equal pieces and roll to form 3 ropes (about 16 inches each). Attach the ropes and braid. Place on a buttered baking sheet, cover with a dish towel and proof until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.

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Brush with egg glaze and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes until richly golden and hollow sounding when tapped from underneath. Cool on wire rack.

If you’re Finnish or grew up around people who were hopefully each slice will bring back happy memories. If you grew up eating challah it may remind you of that. Pulla makes great toast, French toast or grilled sandwiches.

I watched an awesome video recently of a French lady making a variety of braided breads. Some had three ropes, some four, some five…  They all looked easy when she did them. I tried the one with four ropes that I thought I remembered. Well, I didn’t remember and after several failed attempts to make it look as awesome as hers I gave up and just did my best. Hence the irregular shape of my finished product. Next time I’ll stick with three ropes.

TIP: I was always told that when dissolving yeast the water/milk should be the temperature of a baby’s bath. If you’re unsure use a cooking thermometer. Yeast can be killed by temps of 130F or over. Ideal temp is approximately body temp, 98.6F.

Lemon Poppyseed Loaf

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Today was a baking day. I found a recipe for lemon loaf and made some modifications including the poppy seeds. I remember having lemon poppy seed muffins frequently at the Courtland Room in Jacobsons and when I tasted this loaf it reminded me a lot of those muffins.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 T poppy seeds

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 T butter at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp lemon extract

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 T lemon zest

1/2 cup canola oil

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Preheat oven to 350. With a hand mixer on low speed beat the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract, and lemon juice until well combined. Whisk together dry ingredients including lemon zest and poppy seeds and gradually add to egg mixture beating on low until well combined. Add canola oil and mix well.

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Pour batter into a greased 9×5″ loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. After 10 minutes or so invert the pan.  Allow the loaf to cool completely before adding the glaze.

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

2 T milk or lemon juice

Add the liquid to the powdered sugar gradually and continue whisking until the glaze is smooth and has a good drizzling consistency.  You may not need a full 2 T of liquid. I used lemon juice for my glaze because I liked the additional tartness.

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This will be a new favorite for us. I have some key lime extract so I may try using that with key lime juice and zest for a little different taste experience. But it’s all good.

TIP:  If you have extra lemon or lime juice measure it out, put it in a zip lock snack bag, and store in your freezer. Next time you need fresh lemon juice for a recipe and you have no lemons you’ll be glad you saved that extra juice.

Spiced Peaches

I have been in a bit of a canning frenzy lately. Produce has looked particularly beautiful  this year and once I got started I didn’t want to stop. One of my favorite new recipes is for spiced peaches. I bought a bushel of peaches and did half of them in a light syrup, spiced nearly half a bushel and made jam out of the remainder. I found peeling peaches much more time consuming and challenging than peeling beets and tomatoes. I dropped them into boiling water and then into an ice bath just like tomatoes but the peach skin wasn’t quite as cooperative. The first thing you need to do is get rid of the fuzzy peach skin and then we can start spicing the peaches.

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As with any canning project you will need to sterilize your jars in a boiling water bath.

You will need:

Approximately 40 peaches peeled and sliced

7 cups of  sugar

2 cups of water

1 cup white vinegar

2 cinnamon sticks crushed (I wrapped them in a dish towel and smashed them with a hammer)

12 whole cloves

Combine sugar, water, and vinegar in a large heavy kettle.   Bring to a boil and continue to simmer until liquid begins to thicken. Add peaches and spices and simmer until peaches are thoroughly heated.

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Once the fruit is heated fill your prepared jars with the peaches and cover with the syrup leaving a half inch of head space. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes. Remove jars to a towel to cool.

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You can can your peaches whole, halved or sliced.

These peaches can replace syrup on your pancakes or waffles, spice up your oatmeal, add interest to ham, pork chops or chicken, or serve as an ice cream topping. Or just eat them out of the jar.  If you like peaches you will love these!

Granola

Granola is great with yogurt and fruit, as a topping on ice cream, adding a little crunch and texture to hot cereal, or just as a snack by itself. I’m sure there are many other ways to enjoy it!

I made a batch this morning and am looking forward to having some with my yogurt as soon as I’m done posting this recipe.

In a large mixing bowl combine:
3 cups of oats (I use old fashion oats)
1 1/2 c nuts, rough diced (I use a combination of pecans, walnuts, and almonds)
1 1/2 c coconut shavings (not the sweetened coconut you find in the baking aisle)
1/2 c wheat germ, quinoa flakes, or flax seed…I used flax seed in this batch
2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

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In a smaller bowl combine wet ingredients:
1/4 c coconut oil (warmed), mild olive oil or canola oil (I like to use the coconut oil)
1/2 c agave syrup, honey, or maple syrup (I used 1/4 c each of agave and honey)

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Pour over dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon, stir well. Pour mixture onto a large jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides) and spread evenly.

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Bake at 300 for 30 minutes stirring mixture every 10 minutes. Granola should be a light golden brown when it’s done.

I spread butcher paper or parchment paper on my counter top and spread the granola out to cool.

While it is still warm stir in:
1 c dried cherries
1 c golden raisins
Or 2 cups of your favorite dried fruits (apricots, cranberries, figs, etc)

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Once the granola has cooled store in tightly sealed containers.

Enjoy!!!