Sunday February 14, 2010
Time Thief - Part II
I’ll admit it, in a pinch I make caramel apples with Kraft caramel candy!! But, I am somewhat of a purist and food snob and I take pride in using real ingredients and making things from scratch. So here is a winner that is so simple that uses 3 real ingredients.
The only caveat is you need a candy thermometer but it’s worth having in your cooking gear arsenal!!
6 - 8 small apples, unwaxed, cold and craft sticks
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
Push the stick deep into each apple at the stem area.
Fill a large bowl 1/2 full with ice water and set aside.
In a medium, saucepan heat the cream and salt until tiny bubbles start forming where the cream touches the pan. Stir in the honey. Bring the mixture to a boil. Now reduce the heat to an active simmer and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15-20 minutes minutes or until the mixture reaches about 255-260 degrees on your candy thermometer.
To stop the caramel from cooking, set the bottom of the saucepan in the bowl of cold water. Stir until caramel begins to thicken up. Here is where there is a little bit of “art” - the caramel has to me thin enough to coat the apples but thick enough to stick. If the caramel thickens too much simply put the pot back over the burner for 10 seconds or so to heat it up a bit.
Tilt the sauce pan so all the caramel forms a pool on one side, then dunk and twirl each apple until it is thoroughly coated with caramel. Place each apple on the baking sheets and allow the caramel to cool and set. Enjoy!!
Sunday February 14, 2010
Today is Valentine's Day and I am one that loves homemade gifts from the heart. My sweetheart, Jim, has Celiacs Disease, which is an autoimmune disease triggered by eating wheat or foods with gluten. So in keeping with all the buzz about the aphrodisiac effect of chocolate, I decided a flourless (hence, no gluten) chocolate cake would be my gift.
This Recipe is from my amazing friend, Deb Mackey's family archives with her note as follows:
"Here’s an absolutely FAB recipe for a flourless chocolate cake that is to die for, and can be très elegante, depending on how you gussy it up. I frequently plate it on a swirl of raspberry coulee for especially discerning friends.
Every one I’ve ever made it for has raved, and it became the birthday cake of choice for every man in my life. And for some of their subsequent wives’ too, I might add.
I know Jim will enjoy it."
Jackie Burnham’s Flourless Chocolate Cake
10” springform pan, greased (or wax/parchment paper will do)
1 12 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ c. unsalted butter
6 eggs – separated, room temperature
1 c. sugar
½ c chopped pecans
1 Tbs. Bailey’s Irish Cream
½ tsp. vanilla
1 pinch cream of tartar
2 c. whipping cream
¼ c. powdered sugar
2 Tbls. Bailey’s Irish Cream
2 oz. chocolate curls
1. Melt chips, with butter, over hot water
2. Beat yolks in large bowl ( 5 mins., or until thick)
3. Beat in ½ c. sugar, 1 Tbls. at a time
4. Stir in chocolate, pecans, vanilla and Bailey’s
5. Beat whites with cream of tartar to soft peak
6. Gradually add remaining ½.c. remaining sugar. Beat stiff, not dry
7. Fold ¼ of whites into the chocolate cake mix
8. Fold the mix into the remaining whites
9. Pour into pan and bake 30 minutes @ 350 d.
10. Reduce oven to 275. Continue to bake 30 minutes
11. Turn off oven. Let cake stand in oven with door slightly ajar. About 30 minutes
12. Remove from oven. Dampen towel and place on top of cake for 5 minutes. Remove
13. Top of cake will crack and fall. Cool cake in pan
14. Remove springform when cool. Transfer cake to platter
15. Beat cream to soft peak
16. Beat in powdered sugar and remaining Bailey’s. Spoon over top of cake and smooth
17. Sprinkle with chocolate curls
19. Refrigerate 6 hours. Let stand at room temp for 30 minutes before serving
I hope he does enjoy it!!
Monday February 08, 2010
Last summer I decided it was time to really know the farmer. And that farmer was me. (On a very small scale of course.) I wanted to raise our own meat chickens for a variety of reason. I wanted to be in control of everything they ate - all organic feed, fresh spring water, grass, worms and bugs!! I wanted them to be truly pasture-raised. And I wanted to see if I could eat those adorable day-old chicks once they were ready to be harvested. Well the answer to that question is a resounding YES. Those birds were bred to grow. We jokingly called them the oven-stuffer-roasters. They were eating machines and preferred to eat, then sit.
Once they were fully-grown we brought the birds to real farmer friends, Sean Stanton and his brother Jeremy to be "harvested." Our birds weighed about 7-8 pounds and can feed a family of six, no problem!!
I just roasted one of the chickens for dinner on Saturday.
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 sprigs of rosemary, minced
1-2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Mix together to form a paste and infuse under the skin. Rub any leftover on the skin of the chicken. Cut up an onion and lemon and place in cavity. Bake in oven at 375 for an hour or so - I use an instant read thermometer to be certain it is done. I roasted sweet and russett potatoes and onions along side the chicken and served some steamed broccoli as well. A yummy and delightful meal.
What's best, however, is that I have gotten more than one meal out of the big bird! For lunch the next day, I chopped up the white meat and mixed it with some chopped shallots and a dab of mayo and served it on a baguette with a spinach salad.
And today, the soup was on!! I put the carcass in a large stock pot with 8-10 organic carrots, chopped, 2-3 onions, chopped, celeriac, peeled and chopped, 2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste and a can of diced Muir Glen tomatoes.
I added some cooked rice and it was the perfect hearty soup for a cold winter weeknight meal. And best of all - there's plenty for lunch tomorrow.
Thank you BIG BIRD!!
Sunday January 31, 2010
When Matt Finnerty, my step son, found jars of Nutella in the pantry he immediately asked me if I knew how to make crepes. And I answered with a sly smile, "But of course!!"
"Well, okay," he said, "so let's make them." Such exuberance cannot be resisted. And I love the fact that a 14-year old has developed a taste for crepes with Nutella spread on them. He had them when he was in France with his Mom and 2 sisters and hadn't seen Nutella since then. Just the very sight of Nutella brought his memories of a big fat french guy making large fluffy crepes with Nutella. He said they were, "the best!!" Matt wanted to get right down to making them ASAP. What I had to explain is that crepe batter must be made ahead - it needs to sit for a few hours so the flavors meld and the flour hydrates.
We made the batter on Saturday afternoon. We made the crepes on Sunday after a vigorous snow shoe outing - so we earned them!!
Crepe recipes are actually quite easy. Flour, water, melted butter, milk, sugar...
Here's the recipe:
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup half and half
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp melted butter
lemon zest from one lemon
Blend all ingredients. Store covered overnight.
Using a well-seasoned crepe pan or non-stick 5-6" frying pan, heat on low-medium flame, brush pan with canola oil or melted butter. (I usually do a tester before I really get started to make sure pan it hot enough etc.) Then ladle the batter into the pan and swirl it so it spreads into the entire surface. Cook until the edges start browning and top seems dry. I use a fork but a spatula would do the trick as well to loosen the edges. Then flip the crepe and let it cook for a few seconds. (I find this is a feel sort-of-thing - you just can tell when it's ready!!)
Matt took each crepe as it came out of the pan and spread Nutella on it. He ate several on the spot and took the rest back with him to his Mother's house to delight in at a later time.
I don't know about you but there is NOTHING more satisfying than making food that makes people happy!! Thank you Matt!!
Wednesday January 27, 2010
Berkshire Grown's mission is to support our local farmers and promote locally grown food, which results in strengthening our local economy and preserving open spaces. It's a winning mission and one that I support whole-heartedly!
Last night I hosted the newly formed Development Committee for Berkshire Grown.
Our goal is to make Berkshire Grown "sustainable" without state funding. In 2010 we have to do without a $50,000 state grant. And personally, I think that is OK. We just need to do and think differently.
Our goals are to run events that are meaningful and in line with our objectives of helping farmers connect with food buyers - both restaurants through the farm to table program; and people through farmers markets and CSA's. We need to reach out to the community and build membership, and pursue corporate sponsors who want to align with our message. Restaurants play a key role for Berkshire Grown. Their commitment to buying local ingredients and serving them is critical to the sustainability of our local small farms and our local economies. If you are a local or own a second home in the Berkshires, please consider sending a donation to preserve the connection between farmers and eating. I do. I do it through my membership to Berkshire Grown (www.berkshiregrown.org), my membership to 2 CSA's (www.indianlinefarm.com and www.farmgirlfarm.com), raising my own chickens for meat and eggs, and using my land to raise Scottish Highland Cattle for grass fed beef for my family's consumption and ultimately for sale.
Food glorious food! Don't we all live for that? Don't we all want to put what's best in our bodies and lower our carbon footprint? If you answer YES - then support Berkshire Grown or support your local farmers wherever you live - DO IT TODAY!!
And, yes I did serve food. Our meal consisted of organic rice, chicken breast with chick peas and tomatoes and a green salad. Laura Meister (Farm Girl Farm) brought chocolate chip cookies and local ice cream.
Chicken with Chick Peas and Tomatoes
2 whole boneless chicken breast, cut into 8 pieces
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup minced cilantro
1 cup plain yogurt (I like 2% greek but any will do!)
1 can chick peas
1 can of diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix the garlic, oil, paprika,cumin, red pepper flakes. Spoon 1 tablespoon in the yogurt and set aside. Place chicken in a baking dish and spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the spice mixture on the chicken. In a bowl, mix the chick peas, tomatoes, remaining spice mixture and 1/2 cup cilantro. Pour over chicken. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve over rice with a dollup or two of yogurt and sprinkle with cilantro. Enjoy!!