Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Monday December 07, 2009

Carole’s Concoctions:
Baking with Mom - Nutella Heaven Part 1

I have always envied my Mom because she baked whenever she was stressed, worried, or frustrated. And the gorgeous and delicious goodies she produced were and still are phenomenal!! My Mom is a cookbook collector; she reads them as if they were page-turning thrillers. The by-product of such a habit is a stack of recipes that she must "try." And boy does she "try" them - she pretty much produces a picture perfect attempt every time. Some she discards as, "it sounded better than it tastes." And some become part of the recipe war chest. Her arsenal of winners. And lucky for me, I am related to a veritable test kitchen. I can just assume one of her tested recipes and whip it up knowing that it will be a success.
One of these recipes is a Nutella Pound Cake. Exactly, I know what you are thinking - could this really be that good. The answer - it is show stopping delicious!
Mom and I got together on Sunday to bake up some cakes (date nut spice and Nutella cakes) for client and hostess gifts.
Here's the recipe for Nutella Heaven as I have renamed it:
4 eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 stick butter, softened
1 13 ounce jar of Nutella
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Lightly beat eggs with vanilla in a small bowl. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a hand mixer in a large bowl until fluffy. At low-to-medium speed gradually beat in egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in batches, beating at low speed. Spread 1/3 of batter in prepared loaf pan, then spread 1/2 of Nutella on top. Repeat with another 1/3 of batter and the remaining Nutella, topping with the last 1/3 of batter. Lightly swirl Nutella into batter but be careful not to over mix. Bake cake 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes. Then remove from pan and let cool for another 2 hours on a wire rack.
And then ENJOY!!!!

Tuesday September 15, 2009

Carole’s Concoctions:
Am I Nuts?

Maybe yes, maybe no? But I am always willing to try new things and explore the possibilities that an opportunity may be right around the corner. I guess that is what makes me both an optimist and entrepreneur. So when my friend Joanna Roche asked me to help out one of her clients who has a neat line of handbags (some even for knitting and needlework projects) I had to help out. (check out www.lexiebarnes.com) Lexie was debuting her bags at Fashion Week in NYC and needed sponsors and support for her "press lounge" where she hosted a "knitting lounge." So I had to come up with something for the goodie bags well knowing that the rail thin models and weight-obsessed industry would be at the receiving end. So nuts seemed to fit the bill. And I, of course, thought this could be a fun way to get the word out about Heirloom Meals and my quest for sponsors or strategic partners. Finger are crossed for Lexie and me - two independent, creative women with a dream!!
By the way - my nuts are hardly dietetic - but a small bag is really quite satisfying.
So here's my recipe for Spicy Curried Walnuts. They make excellent bar treats, great hostess gifts and are fantastic in a salad.
1 lb walnut halves
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
First you need to blanch walnuts for about a minute in boiling water. Drain and toss well with sugar and oil. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Spread walnuts in a single layer and place in the middle of the oven. Check and turn the walnuts every 7-10 minutes until golden. I find the process is about 25 minutes but be careful - one extra minute can turn your golden nuts black. Remove golden nuts and put in a large bowl. Mix all spices and then toss with the warm nuts. Spread nuts in a single layer to cool. Once cool, store in a sealed container and Enjoy!!

Sunday August 30, 2009

Carole’s Concoctions:
Broccoli Harvest and a Cool Day

Nothing like a raw, unseasonably cool day to make me want to make soup. And fortunately, I had every single ingredient I needed on hand AND it was farm fresh....broccoli we just picked from our garden, leeks, carrots and garlic from the CSA and High Lawn Farm heavy cream. I even had vegetable broth in the freezer awaiting just this confluence of events. So, I figure when the food gods line up like that then I have no choice.....

Here's the recipe for Cream of Broccoli Soup - out of my Mom's archives of recipes with a note on top that says, "excellent." Oh and Julia Child would be proud - I used butter and heavy cream.
9 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups leeks, minced
1 1/2 cups carrots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 heads broccoli, cut into small florets
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 pinches cayenne pepper or to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
salt and pepper to taste
In a pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, garlic. Cook until tender but be sure not to brown (about 5 minutes).
Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the broccoli. Cook 8-10 minutes until the broccoli is tender.
Pour the soup into a processor (may need to do in batches) and process until veggies are finely chopped but not pureed. Pour soup back into pot. Stir in cream, celery seed and salt and pepper. Reheat before serving or freeze in batches as you await another cool day!!
Serves 8-10.
p.s. You can leave out the cream entirely or exchange it for half and half or milk. When using great ingredients it's divine any way you eat it. I've got my 13 year old step son that prefers the heavy cream!!

Thursday July 30, 2009

Carole’s Concoctions:
Blueberry Indulgence

These past two weeks are among my favorite - the pick your own blueberry farms are open and blueberries abound at most farm stands and farmer's markets.  And of course I stuff my face until my mouth is blue, reveling in all the antioxidants this dark super food is delivering to my body. But I also love to bake with them.  One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid in the summer was to bake blueberry muffins or blueberry coffee cake.

Here is one that uses yogurt for an even more healthful indulgence:

Blueberry Yogurt Coffee Cake

This recipe has been in our stable of recipes as far back as I can remember. My Mom and grandmother made certain there was always yummy homemade baked goods in the house. This was a special weekend breakfast treat.  I used to view it as breakfast dessert.  We were big yogurt eaters so it’s not surprising that we baked with yogurt. I now love the new flavors like banilla that add a special twist - but plain usually does the trick!



For the Topping

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut up


For the Cake

8 tablespoons (one stick) butter, softened

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups flour

1 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 x13 baking dish.  Using a fork, blend topping ingredients in small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter, brown sugar and egg (I do it by hand with a fork, but a mixer works wonders!) Add baking soda, flour, yogurt and vanilla and mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.  Pour cake batter into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle berries over top and gently push into batter and then sprinkle sugar topping over all.


Bake 45-50 minutes. Cool and cut into squares. Enjoy!




Wednesday June 17, 2009

Carole’s Concoctions:
Concocted a Roasted Turnip Soup for These Cool June Days

The CSA's are turning out a fine crop of spring harukai turnips and swiss chard and I thought I would take a page out of my grandmother's book and concoct a recipe for turnip soup.  You can use the basic premises of this recipe to turn many veggies into soup. Give this one a try - my family gobbled it up and I need to make more!!

Roasted Turnip Soup with Swiss Chard
4 Harukai Turnips - the root part only, sliced
6 Shallots - diced
4 Cloves Garlic - minced
1-2 Teaspoons fresh thyme - minced
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Cups chicken or Vegetable Broth
1/4 or so Half and Half or Heavy Cream - depends on how indulgent you want to be
1/2-1 Cup of Swiss Chard - chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine first six ingredients, place in roasting pan and roast for 25-30 minutes until tender and golden.  Transfer into saucepan, add broth.  Bring to a gentle boil, lower heat to a simmer and puree until smooth with an immersion blender if you have one. (Otherwise use a blender or a food processor.) Add in half and half and finish off with the chopped swiss chard. Simmer for another 5 minutes and serve.
Hint:  If you can resist not eating it immediately, the flavors really meld together nicely overnight for an ever tastier treat the next day!!  Make enough and freeze for cool fall day.

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