As a kid growing up in Iowa, I knew three cheeses: Velveeta, Maytag blue and Swiss. My Mom always kept a 16-ounce block of Kraft’s processed cheese in the fridge. In Newton, located 140 miles from my home town of Manchester, Maytag Dairy Farms with its herd of prize-winning Holstein cows was producing a phenomenal blue cheese. And, my Great Aunt Iva and Uncle Jesse who lived in Belmont, Wisconsin, used to send us a wheel of locally-made Swiss cheese every Christmas.
While I cannot remember when I last purchased Kraft’s “Liquid Gold,” many Americans still do. Think Macaroni & Cheese. In any given 12-week period, approximately one-third of us eat it. Not surprisingly, half are children. Remember in the 70’s when Velveeta and RO*TEL linked up? The result: Queso Dip. Link to the recipe from Food Network.
Called a Spritz Veneziano (Aperol Spritz), this Italian cocktail and a decked-out cheese board belong together. Recipe at end of the post.
Maytag’s “Lonely Repairman” left Newton in 2007 when the Whirlpool company bought their appliance business. Although the farm still produces its iconic cheese, since leaving Iowa and for no good reason, I don’t buy Maytag’s Blue. And sadly, after my Aunt Iva and Uncle Jesse died, so did my desire for a 2# wheel of Swiss.
In anticipation of National Voter Registration Day on September 25th, I’m just making sure these shoes are made for canvassing. For the last year my friend, Donna Grauer, has been involved in voter registration efforts in our 3-county area. She is also a USFS volunteer ranger, a Master Naturalist specializing in geology and a mentor with the Roaring Fork pre-collegiate program. (In truth, she is a crazy person!)
When I was in Paris last winter I lived a few doors away from cheesemonger Laurent Dubois’ flagship location. Dubois holds the prestigious and hard-won designation Meilleur Ouvrier (Best Craftsman) de France for his talent. Until I took a food tour through my arrondissement, the historic Marais district, I wasn’t brave enough to step through the door. Distinguished for his Comtés, small production chèvres and Pyrenées bribes, he also ages cheeses in caves below his shop and offers outrageous in-house specialties. After visiting Dubois during the tour I occasionally stopped by. Still, it was overwhelming in variety and intimidating to choose.
Hard at work in the French Cheese Tasting Workshop which I took last winter, offered by Paris by Mouth.
That’s why I enrolled in a French Cheese Tasting Workshop offered by Paris by Mouth to learn about cheeses, taste 10 varieties, and wash them down with 5 different wines and a never-ending bounty of baguettes. Of the many tours, walks, and workshops I did in Paris, my day with Jennifer, the Big Cheese, and seven classmates was the best.
To build the cheese board pictured above, I first started with the cheeses: Marin French Cheese, Brie Triple Crème (top); Point Reyes Toma Cheese (left); and, Rogue Creamery Organic Smokey Oregon Blue, with honey. All three were 2018 award winners at the American Cheese Society’s competition this year.
However, it was what she said to we 5 Americans after class that made the biggest impression. “You know,” she said,“they are making very good artisan cheeses in America now. Really good.”
I decided to find out.
#fromagefriday, Cheese Board for One
After choosing your cheeses, just begin building the board. More is better!
Sometimes when you know what you like and like what you know, it becomes a rut. When selecting cheese, I’m a bore. More days than not, I eat solo. And, while that’s never boring to me, I’m always eager to add a spark, to make meal time grater!
Why not, every so often, put together a cheese board for myself featuring 1-2 unfamiliar but well-considered cheeses – firm, semisoft, soft, fresh or blue-veined. And give that board a boost by adding fresh or dried fruit, cured meats, nuts, seeds, spreads, pickled and marinated foods, breads, crackers, a chocolate or two. Even better, pull out and include leftovers, odds and ends shoved to the back of your fridge and pantry.
The board on the Left is a perfect size for one or two people. With the board on the right, just go wild.
To my mind, food should be celebrated and eating it, an occasion. The process of building this board was as delightful as eating it. Whether a cheese board for one or teatime spread for 6 or holiday sugar treats for 25, the possibilities are endless. Choose your base, pick a theme, create a feast and make pretty. Need ideas? Look for Platters and Boards, Beautiful Casual Spreads for Every Occasion at your local library. The authors Shelley Westerhausen and Wyatt Worcel move the creative entertainment bar up a notch or two.
APEROL SPRITZ RECIPE:
Main alcohol: Prosecco
Ingredients: 2 oz Prosecco, 1 1/4 oz Aperol, Splash of Soda water
Preparation: Build into glass over ice, garnish and serve.
Served: On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnish: Orange Wedge
Drink ware: Old Fashioned glass
This Slab Pie is a peach-perfect choice for the many end-of-summer potlucks you’ll be attending. This easily made Peach Crumble Slab Pie received rave reviews. Be creative and use any fruit combo of the summer’s fresh bounty.
As an amateur photographer, using a point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot which isn’t even manufactured anymore, I have one rule: Never let the picture get in front of the experience.
Happiness is baking Challah with Lieba Mintz at the Jewish Community Center.
That’s why I missed a magnificent opportunity to photograph the illusive Sharp-shinned Hawk during a recent birding field trip. We were studying the astonishing number of Violet-green Swallows feasting on the insects at Hallam Lake when suddenly they all rose up with a terrifying kik-kik-kik call and flew off. That translates to “approaching danger,” and, sure enough, in swooped a hawk.
Someone yelled, “I think it’s a Sharpie.”
Rather than bake off my bread at the Center, I brought mine home to proof in the fridge overnight. In the morning it was ready to bake.
Deb, Jane (the redhead) and I joined 25 other women at the Jewish Center to bake challah.
I won’t even attempt to explain this!
Since 90% of this hawk’s diet is songbirds it had discovered the motherlode. This was a win, however, for the swallows and the Sharpie, coming up short, flew into a bare tree to strategize. I had never seen a good visual of this bird so, for the short minute he was perched before taking off, I took a looong look. Missed the shot, got my eye on the bird.
Food & Friendship – Wendy Weaver made a pie with these gorgeous red currants and gifted me with what was left.
I made cornbread.
It was delicious.
I also opted for experience last summer with the unexpected entrance to the music tent of the Notorious RGB. With intermission just ending, most of the 2,000 people in the tent were returning to their seats for a performance by American opera singer Renée Fleming. I was seated in an aisle seat, heard commotion and turned to see Justice Ginsberg painstakingly making her way down the steps. As her surprise arrival rippled through the crowd, a wave of people began to stand up, clap and appreciate her as she found her seat. I absorbed the experience, missed the good shot.
There’s a fine line between being a visual storyteller while still being capable of re-telling the story. It’s just one of the many minor choices in a lifetime of them for me, for us all.
For me personally this has been a summer of all kinds of choices. The good news is Aspen being an amazing place to live during the summer. That’s also the bad news. It’s impossible to do all the “amazings.”
Melissa closed her office for a week and flew to Aspen to spend some time with her Mom. Pure Joy.
Although practically at my back door in nearby Grand Junction, I had never been to the Colorado National Monument before. It’s an amazing 23,000 acres of canyons, plateaus, massive towers of naturally sculpted monoliths and red rock landscapes.
While I was reading an historic trail sign this Desert Big Horn Sheep wandered near. I don’t recommend being this close to wildlife but my only option was to stand still. He was not threatening and eventually sauntered off when cars began to stop for a look.
“The biggest, trickiest lesson,” explains author Elizabeth Gilbert,“is learning how to say No to things you do want to do – stuff that matters – so that you can successfully do a handful of things that really matter. Our only hope of beating “Overwhelm” may be to limit, radically, what we’re willing to get “Whelmed” by in the first place.”
This summer I’ve tried to take Gilbert’s advice, knocking out the “Over,” settling for just the “Whelm’s.” That’s even why I’ve taken a month-long break from this blog – can we call it a sabbatical? And, no, it’s not an aging thing, why would you even think that?
Recent research has shown that ‘most of us spend nearly 47 percent of our waking hours each day thinking about something other than what we’re doing.’ *
Although I’m thrilled to be blogging again, I’m sad that Summer is waning. So, loyal Readers, I raise this Toast to you: Here’s to relishing joy in the moment, savoring that which is fleeting and focusing on the present experience.
Food & Friendship: My Gant neighbor, Meredith Bell, who lives in Atlanta, brought me a bag of her favorite, mild Shishito Peppers.
…and then we simply tossed with olive oil before heating and blistering them over high heat. Sprinkle with salt. Voila! No utensils needed.
PEACH CRUMBLE SLAB PIE – adapted from New York Times food writer Melissa Clark, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Jane Hutchison (my Mom)
If you want to make a memorable impression with a dazzling dessert for a large summer gathering, bake a slab pie. Enlist help from our available bounty of berries or stone fruit. This dessert, which generously serves 16-18, is the busy baker’s answer to quick, simple and delicious.
First, let’s talk about pie crust. In this recipe I rely on the Doughboy. Here’s why. The stars of this pie are Colorado’s Palisade peaches and the to-die-for crumble. The bottom pie crust (use both pouches in the box) is just the foundation. We need the crust to do its job so the tasty ingredients can shine. Now if you wish to make your own crust, hooray, but I’m making three slab pies next week so ready-made crusts are my friend.
As a time-saver, choose your favorite pre-made pie crust dough. Use both pouches from a box of ready-made pie crust stacked together.
12 ripe large peaches or nectarines or a mix, peeled or not, pitted and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup packed light brown sugar
⅓ cup instant tapioca
zest of 3 small or 2 large lemons
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon/ fine sea salt
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups of Quaker oats (quick or old-fashioned)
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ½ sticks unsalted, COLD butter, cubed
1. Remove pie crusts from pouches. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, unroll and stack crusts one on top of the other and gently roll the two stacked discs to an 11-x-15-inch rectangle, lightly dusting with flour if dough is sticking. Fold dough in half and transfer to a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Carefully press crust into the bottom of the dish and completely up the edges so its flush with the top (no need to crimp the dough.) Refrigerate while preparing the filling and crumble.
2. Make the filling. In a large bowl, toss together peaches, sugar, tapioca, lemon zest and juice, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange one oven rack on the lowest position and a second rack in the center position. Place baking sheet on lowest rack while oven is preheating.
4. Make the crumble topping. Whisk together flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Mix in cold butter with your fingertips until mixture is uniformly moist and comes together in large clumps.
5. Assemble the pie. Remove up to one cup of liquid from the filling if it seems too soupy. (Use it in a smoothie.) Spoon filling into crust and top with crumble.
6. Place pie on pre-heated baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Move baking sheet with pie to the center rack. Continue baking until pie is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
TIP: This dessert does not need to be refrigerated for a day or so. Just cover loosely with a kitchen towel or wax paper. If not eaten by then (and, I’m betting that won’t happen), cover it with Saran Wrap and place in fridge.
*research project of Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T Gilbert
Food & Friendship: This chard was almost too beautiful to cook. From the Overeynder Community Garden Plot
Call me crazy, but I’m wondering if the 24-hour day has declined into 21- sixty minute cycles. The world’s in a twirl, spinning a bit faster, can’t you tell? If Jupiter can claim ten more moons, bringing its number to 79, I can suggest each day seemingly three hours shorter.
Almond, Blueberry with Berry Sauce Dutch Baby
Now this isn’t a whine nor am I complaining. Summer has been kind to me. I’m grateful for every moment, relish the opportunities I’m offered and grateful for the many friends who share my passions. While I don’t know all you readers personally, I have to believe and hope your hearts beat with that same gladness. However, there’s no harm in wishing each day was a bit more elastic, stretching to fit our needs, plans and desires.
This week’s blog not only features photos fueled by those passions but also gives you a terrific you-can-absolutely-not-fail recipe. It’s fun to bake, and can adjust to any scenario – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or just because. You’ll recognize the “framework” as a Dutch Baby, an American creation of a batter-driven cross between a pancake and a popover.
the Dutch Baby “framework”
Although I’ve made Dutch Babies before, they’ve always been a bubble off – not enough pouf, too much puff, soggy bottom. For whatever reason, the recipe for this Baby responds to those risks and provides a structure to build your flavor. The recipe is below.
We moved to the tiny town of Aspen more than thirty years ago and I’ve been fortunate to collect a wonderful group of friends. Last week Dale Hollinger and I took lunch out to one of my “first” friend’s, Frances Ginsberg, who is finally on the road to healthy. It took years of Frances’ grit and determination coupled with medicine’s miracles to get there. Those smiles are genuine.
Spending the afternoon at Frances (seated) and Bob’s lovely Woody Creek home by the river is a treat.
For 27 of the past 30 years that Linda and David Stein have summered in Aspen, the “Delta Girls” have been spending a week here each summer. Linda and all these women, who now are scattered throughout the country, worked for Delta Airlines. For many of those years, Luky Seymour, the first person we met after moving to Aspen, and I have been invited to spend an evening with the Delta Girls.
Manee (L) made a delicious Thai-inspired dinner for us. Linda & David (the couple), Luky (middle). The Delta girls – Joanie, Janice, Darnell & Claudette
My favorite dish of Manee’s was this Tom Yum Seafood soup.
The Aspen Insitute, an international nonprofit think tank founded in 1949, is a nonpartisan forum for values-based leadership and the exchange of ideas. This week has been the Aspen Security Forum, an annual affair convened to discuss the key security issues of the day. In the past these forums have been quiet affairs. This year with Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray on the docket, it was not. After listening to these men it’s my opinion that they are pretty straight shooters who believe in the rule of law and keeping Americans safe. Very reassuring.
FBI Director Christopher Wray and NBC New Commentator Lester Holt are ready to take the stage for a Conversation at the Aspen Security Forum.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: “Exposing schemes to the public is an important way to neutralize them. The American people have a right to know if foreign governments are targeting them with propaganda.”
Although we do get some smoke from the fires here in Aspen, our birds seems to be flourishing.
a Cooper’s Hawk chick who has not yet fledged
Mallard Ducks, early morning at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
This Ruby-crowned Kinglet is trying to hide but his rising red crest is giving him away.
FIRE UPDATE: While all the evacuees of the 6,283-acre Lake Christine fire which was 43% contained returned to their homes, they were cautioned to ‘keep their bags packed.’ As I write this the fire has flared again in a particularly northern steep section of the backcountry to 8315 acres and forced pre-evacuation notices to down valley residents.
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You can just sprinkle almonds and powdered sugar on your Dutch baby or you can add any combo of fruit and sauce and even ice cream to the shell.
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp almond extract
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup of toasted or roasted sliced almonds
Compote: (using blueberries)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp blueberry “juice”
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1.Preheat oven to 450°.
2. While oven is heating, combine all dutch baby ingredients EXCEPT the butter in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Once oven is heated, add the butter to a 10″ cast iron or oven-proof skillet and place the skillet in the oven. As soon as the butter has melted, remove the skillet from the oven, brush butter evenly all over the skillet including the sides, then pour the batter into the skillet.
4, Bake dutch baby for approximately 20 minutes, or until it has puffed up and is golden brown on the edges/top.
5. While dutch baby is baking, make the compote and glaze/saucesauce. Heat blueberries (of, fruit of your choice) and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to break down the blueberries. Simmer on low for 5-10 minutes, then pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer, removing any blueberry chunks. You should be left with just the liquid.
5. For the glaze/sauce, add 2 Tbsp blueberry juice and powdered sugar to a bowl and whisk. If you prefer it to be thinner, add an additional 1 Tbsp blueberry, and if you want it thicker, add 1/4 cup powdered sugar.
6. After taking the dutch baby out of the oven and letting it cool a bit, sprinkle on powdered sugar and sliced, toasted almonds before adding fruit and glaze/sauce.
Since it was Emma’s 17th birthday yesterday, I added whipped cream, sprinkles and a candle to my morning Dutch Baby snack. Happy Birthday, sweet Emma.
BABA GANOUSH, this week’s Cook-the-Book-Fridays recipe. Delicious.
In my last post I discussed my summer responsibilities as a volunteer USFS wilderness ranger in Colorado’s White River National Forest. “With full-on fire restrictions already in place,” I wrote, “we’ll be on the lookout [for fire].”
Of major concern were lightening strikes, tossed cigarette butts or campground mishaps caused by uninformed tourists. We never considered a fire being kindled by two local 22/23 years-old residents getting their kicks late Tuesday afternoon by shooting illegal tracer rounds (a burning bullet) at a shooting range located a mile from Basalt. Sulfur bullets are illegal. Always.
Wednesday night, 4th of July, Willits Town Center with Whole Foods in the center. Katie Baum Hueth Eagle County Sheriff’s Office
Their mischief sparked what is now a 5,263 acre fire, with 0% containment, threatening the small communities nearby. Most of my good friends live down valley in that area. Several have been evacuated with no return date promised. More than 300 firefighters, using the most advanced equipment available, are fighting this fire but three homes have already been lost.
Jane Carey and I are preparing to feed some hungry men and women.
Last night, Thursday, I answered an appeal from my church and volunteered to help serve dinner to the firefighters at the Salvation Army’s Mobile Canteen in El Jebel. The meal was catered by Whole Foods, one of the businesses threatened the night before by an erratic wind change. I asked my friend, Jane Carey, a caterer who knows her way around a food truck, to join me. In a helpless situation where one can just step back as the firefighters tackle a monster fire, it was good for our psych to do something helpful. For me, this fire is personal.
Grabbing drinks before picking up their plates – at one point we had 50 firefighters lined up and patiently waiting their turn.
By 5pm, along with two volunteers from Vail, we began chopping, slicing and mixing together enough salad for 300 ravenous firefighters. At 6:30pm, Whole Foods delivered our meal – beef, pork, mac and cheese, meat and cheese lasagnas, pinto and black beans, rolls and cake – all sealed in small bags and packed into portable warming ovens. Joined by two others volunteers, Jane got our stations organized and a well-honed serving system established with the 6 of us jammed into the mobile canteen. We were good to go with a hot, delicious dinner as these heroic firemen came down off the mountain.
Between 7:30pm and 9:30pm, when the last crew checked in, we fed 302 hungry, tired and sooty, men/women. They were polite and grateful. I’ve never been “thank-you-ed” so much in my life. Of course, keep in mind, I was the Mac-and-Cheese Lady! I think there could be a Food Truck in my future.
With Aspen’s nearby communities in pain and so many friends feeling fearful, I hesitated about blogging this week? But I decided to tell my story in this week’s post and also share our Cook-the-Book-Fridays recipe, Baba Ganoush (better than hummus) and add some happy local news. I will ask, however, that you find a little space to hold everyone dealing with this catastrophe in your hearts.
It will be a long time before I can look at another plate of macaroni and cheese.
SPOTLIGHT HEALTH AND ASPEN IDEAS FESTIVAL
The Aspen Ideas and Spotlight Health Festival which just concluded is, using the Aspen Institute’s words, “the nation’s premier, public gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to engage in deep and inquisitive discussion of the ideas and issues that shape our lives and challenge our times. Some 450 presenters, 400 sessions, and 3,000 attendees comprised the 2018 annual ten-day Festival.”
Team Doerr-Hosier: During Spotlight and Ideas, I volunteered at the Doerr-Hosier Center located on the Aspen Institute’s campus. I was very fortunate to take my orders from these capable young women. L to R: Margot, me, Azalea, Annie and Christian.
Launched in 2005, I’ve attended nearly all of them and have always considered it the most important thing I do for myself every summer. For the last 3 years I’ve volunteered for the event. That, surprisingly, has become an even better learning experience. This year three of the eight program tracks especially interested me: The Genius of Animals; Leadership in a Time of Change; and Freedom of Speech and the Marketplace of Ideas. . What was particularly impressive during the ten days was hearing from an assortment of creative, breathtakingly brilliant and diverse group of young presenters prepared to put right again the world they are inheriting. Get ready for it, folks.
4th of July Parade
Our recipe this week is David Lebovitz’s delicious Baba Ganoush, which is similar to and served like hummus. Instead of chickpeas, it has mashed eggplant (grilled or roasted) which is mixed into tahini, olive oil, and various seasonings.
BABA GANOUSH (MOUTABAL) by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen
2 globe eggplants (21/2pounds )
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or smoked chile powder
1/8 teaspoon of cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons finely-chopped parsley
coarsely chopped fresh herbs or seeds for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt.
2. Use a sharp knife to prick each eggplant a few times. Char the outside of the eggplants on a grill or by placing them directly on the flame of a gas burner. As the skin chars, turn them until the eggplants are uniformly-charred on the outside, about 5-10 minutes. (If you don’t have a gas stove or grill, you can char them under the broiler.)
3. When cool enough to handle, trim the stems off and split the eggplants lengthwise. Place the eggplants cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until they’re completely soft. You should be able to easily poke a paring knife into them and meet no resistance.
4. Remove from oven and let cool.
5. Scrape out the pulpit the bowl of a food processor and puree the pulp with all the other ingredients added until smooth. (You may also mash the eggplants with a fork in a large bowl with the other ingredients.)
6. Taste, and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary.
7. Serve in a shallow bowl, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs or seeds. Serve at room temperature or chilled with crackers, sliced baguette, or toasted pita chips.
Storage: Baba Ganoush can be made and refrigerated for up to three days prior to serving.
CHERRY CHOCOLATE PECAN COOKIES by The Skinny Chick
For the previous four winters I’ve emptied my Aspen condo of personal belongings, parking them in my down valley storage unit, and handed my keys to The Gant’s front office personnel. There’s no way to make this easy. Physically, it’s double-duty difficult, packing for a 51/2-month journey while converting my home into rental space. Mentally, it’s always been way outside my comfort zone. I just couldn’t get my head around the process.
ONE BOWL BUTTERMILK BRAN MUFFINS by CAFÉ SUCRE FARINE
Usually I return to Colorado, as I did last week, dreading the re-entry chores awaiting me. But this year, compared to the past, that has seemed less daunting. If I weren’t dieting, I would call it “a piece of cake.” In four years I’ve apparently morphed from hunter-gatherer to true believer, less is more, keep it simple. My mantra is if I take something out, don’t bring something else in.
MADELEINES au SARRASIN by David Lebovitz
Every year it seems my less becomes less, my simple is simpler. It may be, as someone suggested, I’ve stepped so far outside my comfort zone I’ve forgotten how to climb back in. If that translates to lightening my load, I vote yes.
SPRINGTIME in the ROCKIES (no grumbling, we desperately need the moisture).
After a 3-month hiatus from cooking, hanging out in my kitchen says Welcome Home. Since we’re into comfort zones, being inside and out, I’m thinking this blog sorta teeters on the edge. Dear Readers, when did you last do something brand spanking new? Something that nudged you outside the familiar. That’s the true test.
ONE BOWL BUTTERMILK BRAN BREAD
This blog has forced me into a deep dive of unknown recipes, techniques and ingredients. Every week it’s a learning experience with more failures than I will ever admit. In fact I’ve become quite comfortable with failing. Oops!
This week I’ve baked three newbies which I guarantee you bakers will be trying. My new bestie is buckwheat flour, not only healthy but hearty. You’ll see me using it in more recipes this summer. Although I’ve never waded through Proust’sIn Search of Lost Time, I can now bake madeleines. Hooray for me. Thank you, Dorie Greenspan and David Lebovitz.
Each summer I need a tasty, freezable drop cookie recipe for snacks and to share. This chunk of sweetness loaded with two kinds of chocolate, roasted nuts and dried cherries is quick, simple and delicious.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate
1/2 cup coarsely chopped milk chocolate
1 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, roasted pecans
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. Mix in flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix in cherries, white and milk chocolate, and roasted pecans either in the mixer or with a wooden spoon.
5. With a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop 2 tablespoonfuls of dough and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
6. Bake until just set and golden, about 12-14 minutes.
7. Let cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
TIP: Store in an airtight container for about 3 days or freeze for up to a month
MADELEINES au SARRASIN(Buckwheat Madeleines) by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen
Besides the madeleines, I also used the leftover batter to make delicious mini-muffins.
David’s take on madeleines using buckwheat flour is genius in a hearty, more healthy manner. It’s less sophisticated and refined than its white flour sister but the guys at The Gant’s front desk loved these “seashells.” In fact James told me, “My mom used to make these every Christmas.”
YIELD: 18 madeleines
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup egg whites (usually about 4 large eggs)
1 tablespoon dark honey
When crepes are made with buckwheat flour, they are called Galettes. We recently ordered this Galette at Breizh Cafe in Paris.
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. As the butter cooks, it will sputter a bit and then it will settle down. Cook the butter until it’s the color of maple syrup and smells toasty. It’s about a 5-minute process. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. (See the How-To below in TIPS.)
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the egg whites and honey. Stir in one-third of the browned butter and gradually add the rest of the butter, including all the dark bits, without scraping the bottom of the pan. Mix until the batter is smooth.
3. In a madeleine mold, brush the indentations with melted butter. Fill the molds three-quarters full with the batter. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until the spring back lightly when you touch them in the center. Because of the color of the buckwheat flour, color is not a good indication of doneness.
4. Remove from oven, wait 30 seconds, then tip out onto cooling rack. Madeleines are best eaten warm, or on the same day they are made. Sprinkle confectioners sugar on the tips if you wish.
TIPS: Here’s a great link to browning butter 101 by Joy the Baker (Love, love, love Joy the Baker). Personally I would take my butter to a deeper brown, a maple syrup color, than Joy suggests.
For most of my adult life I have searched for a tasty bran muffin. I like the idea of a bran muffin and the taste. Unfortunately I’ve never met a bran muffin that isn’t dry. With that first bite, I’m always hopeful. By the third bite, dry, crumbly, no flavor. Chris’ bran muffin passed the dry test. In my opinion the honey-butter glaze is the magic. Before you glaze the warm muffins, why not poke it with three small holes so the glaze will seep through.
Here’s Chris’ link. Besides the recipe, she offers many tips, a must-read.
CooktheBookFridays is a international group virtually cooking through My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. Join us by clicking here.
This post is dedicated, with fondness, to Dr. David Yokum, who was a prominent thoracic surgeon and catfish guy.
Another french classic, Brandade de Morue translates to Salt Cod and Potato Puree and is delicious.
Being Iowa born and bred in the Fifties/Sixties meant odds are heavily weighted to a meat-and-potatoes palate. In the Corn State then there were approximately 200,000, 150-170 acre family farms. Each August at the Delaware County Fair, the 4-H kids would show off their prized livestock, compete for ribbons and eventually auction those animals off.
My neighbor raptor, a red-shouldered hawk, gets scrutinized by a visiting hummingbird.
My parents would purchase a porker and reserve a side of beef from prize-winning 4-H livestock. At our house we didn’t eat fish. Mom was a good cook and those were different times. I had no hankering for fish nor, when it became more available, was curious enough to try. Plus, Michael was a meat man.
Salted Codfish is difficult to find in some areas. I found mine at Whole Foods. It’s better to buy it boned, if possible.
Thanks to David Yokum, I fully embraced the piscine world. David and his lovely wife, Martha, lived in Arkansas but, being music aficionados, summered in Aspen. He and I bonded shortly after our moving to Colorado in the late Eighties. Seated together at a charity dinner at the historic Hotel Jerome we chit-chatted with ease.
This Great Blue Heron likes to loiter nearby where there is a good possibility of scoring food.
A waitress, carrying two heavy coffee pots, stopped at our table to offer refills. As she leaned in to pour coffee into David’s cup, the pot in her other hand leaned with her. She successfully executed a full-on “pour” down David’s neck. When I noticed and started to scream, David remained oblivious…..until that piping hot coffee began streaming down his back.
After 36 hours of cold water rinses and draining, this is what reconstituted cod looks like.
Yeah, it hurt. Yeah, it scalded his skin. And, yeah, that frightened waitress was horrified. Ever the southern gentleman, he quietly left the table, making no fuss, and tended to his surface wounds. Throughout the 2-3 minute ordeal, the only words he grumbled to me were, “And, this is a new suit!”
Pacific Harbor Seal
Friends forever! That summer we newbies received an invitation to the Yokum’s annual catfish party. Apparently a coveted invitation to receive, we were none too interested in accepting. Growing up near the muddy Mississippi River, what I knew about catfish was not appetizing. Whiskers (barbels). Bottom dwellers. Considered the garbage eaters of the fish world.
The Brandade de Morue consisting of potatoes and cod is simmered in boiling water for 25 minutes before being drained and whipped together. Seasonings and heavy cream are added before it’s all mixed and ready for 20 minutes in the oven.
What we didn’t know was our doctor friend owned a 7,500-acre farm with about 60 ponds covering 1,200 water acres, producing soybeans, rice and catfish. His catfish were farm-raised. Not farming I recognized. But, Michael and I decided to chance it. Our new friend, David, was amused.
These brown pelicans are doing a bit of grooming.
Hushpuppies, cole slaw and Arkansas farm-fried catfish. Tasty fare, not-to-be-missed. Although David and Michael are gone now, the memories built off that first encounter and the Yokum’s friendship are forever.
In France, Les Accras, salt cod fritters served with tartar sauce, are a popular happy hour snack.
After moving to Aspen and realizing its local availability, I eventually joined the fish brigade. Today I eat very little pork or beef. It’s an easy walk to the Butcher Block/City Market to buy fish. This week’s Cook the Book Friday’s recipes, Brandade de Morue and Accras (fritters) de Morue are a far swim from the Yokum’s catfish.
This solitary Long-billed Curlew is at work, searching for food.
I first sampled Brandade de Morue in Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s demo at Aspen’s Food & Wine Festival. During my immersion french studies at the Institute de Français in Villefranche-sur-Mer, it was served at Côte d’Azur bistros/brasseries. Brandade is a purée of reconstituted salted cod, potato and seasonings. It’s served very hot, browned on top, with a leafy salad and beer (my taste). Or, it’s an elegant appetizer. Or, as a snack, Accras de Morue, chilled balls of brandade, coated with fritter batter and fried.
Using my cookie scoop, I made 1-2″ balls from the brandade and then refrigerated them for 30 minutes. I made the fritter batter and dipped the chilled balls in the batter before frying them in canola oil. Like potato chips, you cannot eat just one!
Since making these recipes is a two-day process involving reconstituting the salty cod, I am not adding recipes. I relished making this, channeling the phenomenal Samuelsson, but in the future will leave it to others. If you DO want these recipes, I will gladly send them.
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