December 28, 2010

DB Christmas Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Though I do appreciate all yeasted goodies I've never been a big fan of Christmas breads like stollen and panetone.  They are often dry and flavorless and I much prefer the sticky goodness of the much maligned fruitcake, even the brick like kind.  But this year I fully embraced the challenge and fell in love with stollen.

I followed Penny's recipe replacing the butter with Earth Balance tub margarine.  For the fruit I made my own candied tangerine peel with cognac soaked currants and dried cranberries.  I used the spice combination from the Martha Stewart recipe because I have a recent obsession with mace, an extremely underused spice.   To avoid having on giant stollen wreath in the house to tempt me, I split my recipe into three loaves.  Two I froze and later shared one each with my parents and in laws and one I kept to enjoy.

It was fragrant, fruity, yeasty and wonderful and a fitting send off because in our household we're trying out being wheat free.  I made almost all of our Christmas cookies this year wheat free because my husband feels better not eating it.  And I'm personally committing to all of January completely wheat and gluten free to jumpstart my diet and see if I feel better eating that way.  Wish me luck because I know I'll be daydreaming about yeasty deliciousness like this stollen.

- Here is the complete stollen recipe which can also be found on our host Penny's blog, Sweet Sadie's Baking
-Along with advice from her German friend who bakes Stollen every year, Penny used the information in Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker’s Apprentice and this Martha Stewart recipe for a stollen wreath
-Visit the Daring Kitchen and see more festive breads made this month by browsing the Daring Baker Blogroll.

Slices of stollen
Penny and Fritz with the snow drift after the big snow on December 12th, I love birthday snow!
The ducks still wander around in the snow, but thankfully we've been able to convince them that their nice heated house is the best place to spend the night.
The best Christmas photo I could get this year
A dreamy Christmas Fritz
He like the rest of us is a little sad this Christmas because our oldest dog Roxy unexpectantly passed away earlier this month. We all miss her very much.

December 9, 2010

Gingerbread House Ideas

Before we move on Penny would like to present a plea on behalf of her mother. Because it's..
Click on the image above or this link and vote for Dog Hill Kitchen: Cherry Pie Lattice Cookies.  

Now that you are finished and have hit your back button, here's my collection of ideas for my gingerbread house for this year.  The culinary school in town had a gingerbread house contest, but sadly I learned of the contest after it was too late to enter, maybe next year.  The following photos are the from the gingerbread contest which was part of the Zonta Club of Traverse City's Festival of Trees.

These rice treat hay bales look super cute and easy.
They'd be perfect with a gingerbread duck house!
John liked the look of the pepita brick chimney.
The banana chips shingles are nice as well.
I loved the goji berry bridge.
Alex is going through a big fish loving phase and thought the poured sugar pond was awesome.
The grand prize winner used a lot of different homemade candy and had a great theme. 
It's a gingerbread Candy Land board.
We finally got some good snow, Alex loves to eat it!

December 3, 2010

Cherry Pie Lattice Cookies with an Iron Foodie Twist

Iron Foodie 2010 | Here's Why that will be me: -- Fine Bulk Foods The Foodie BlogRoll
Last week I received my Iron Foodie ingredients from Marx Foods.  In our mystery "basket" were whole bourbon vanilla beans, Aji Panca chiles, fennel pollen, dried wild porcini mushrooms, maple sugar, dulse seaweed,Tellicherry peppercorns, and smoked salt.  In an attempt to be a "serious" competitor I spent most of the week tasting and contemplating a savory entree entry.  But the whole time all I could think about was Christmas cookies and cornmeal. 

I wait all year for the baking excitement around Christmastime and planning a new addition to the cookie round up is a big deal to me.  (What can I say, maybe my life is too mundane or maybe I'm baking-obsessed?)  Old favorites take up considerable cookie plate real estate so a new cookie has to be something special to earn a spot.  I knew these ingredients could help an average cookie recipe become "Christmas plate worthy".

I browsed my cookie recipe collection and found one I liked.  This Apricot Windows recipe from Martha Stewart gave me a chance to use some cornmeal from my homegrown Bloody Butcher corn, the same corn we used to make our corn husk dolls, and it seemed adaptable to the mystery ingredients.

The bourbon vanilla bean combined with the cornmeal and the maple sugar to make a brilliantly flavorful shortbread.  In place of the apricot jam, my shortbread was topped with Michigan sour cherry preserves that had been jazzed up with some freshly cracked Tellicherry peppercorns and fennel pollen.   Sour cherry was a better foil for the fennel and pepper together, anise flavors go well with cherry and I love almost all fruit with black pepper.  The resulting cookie had an attractive lattice-topped pie appearance and a unique flavor that will earn it a place on this year's cookie plate.

Cherry Pie Lattice Cookies
Based on Martha Stewart's Apricot Windows recipe
Makes 12-16 cookies in an 8"x8" pan

1/2 cup sour cherry preserves or jam, at room temperature
1 teaspoon fennel pollen
1 teaspoon freshly cracked  Tellicherry peppercorns
1/2 cup maple sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 whole vanilla bean
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cornmeal, medium or coarse for texture
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg 

-Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
-In a small bowl, mix the jam with the fennel pollen and pepper.  Set aside.
-Place the maple sugar and butter or margarine into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle blade.  Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean and cream these three ingredients until light and fluffy.
-While the sugar and butter mixture is beating, whisk together the flour, cornmeal and salt in a separate bowl.
-Add the egg to the creamed butter and beat until incorporated.   Add the flour mixture in three installments, beating until almost combined each time.  Then scrape and beat to create a fully mixed batter.  
-Fit a piping bag with a #12 or #11 plain piping tip or use a sandwich bag and cut a 1/4 inch hole in one end.  Fill with a 1/2 cup of batter.  Fold over or close to keep the batter from drying out and set aside.
-Line an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with vegetable oil.  To keep the parchment paper from shifting spray a small amount under the paper as well.
-Spread the rest of the batter in an even layer onto the parchment lined pan.  Bake for 20 minutes, until light golden brown.
-Remove the pan from the oven, spread on an even layer of the seasoned jam or preserves.  Then top with crisscrossing lines of piped batter approximately one inch apart to create a grid.
-Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the piped lines on top are golden brown.
-Allow the cookies to cool.  Using the parchment paper, lift the uncut cookie out of the pan and then slice into bars or squares. 

*Variation: These could also be baked in a removable bottom tart pan and then cut into wedges like a mini pie. I would suggest a 8 or 9 inch diameter pan.

Our homegrown Bloody Butcher corn
If you are a Foodie Blog Roll member you can vote for your favorite Iron Foodie dish starting Tuesday December 7th.

November 27, 2010

DB Autumnberry Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.
Ever in search of a better pie crust I was trilled to try out this month's recipe for pasta frolla, Italy's contribution to the pastry dough world.  I made our host's variation that adds in coconut flour and whole wheat pastry flour to supplement the all-purpose flour.  For the fat I used a combination of two thirds solid extra virgin coconut oil with one third Earth Balance margarine.  I filled my tart with the spiced autumnberry jam I made earlier in the month.  Then because Alex and I nibbled too much on the scraps, which were very tasty, I added some pecans on top for crunch and decoration.  It was a simple but tasty tart that I brought along to a Black Friday lunch with my parents.  Thanks for the challenge Simona!

-Go to our host Simona's blog briciole for her two pasta frolla recipes and her aunt's pastry cream recipe.
-Simona used the recipes for pasta frolla from the book Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, follow the link to read it on Google books.
-Come across any autumn olive berries (autumnberries) still left on bushes in the woods?  Make a batch of this jam.  The berries are even sweeter after the frost. 
-Visit the Daring Kitchen and see more crostatas made this month by browsing the Daring Baker Blogroll.

A slice of autumnberry crostata
 This Thanksgiving my son Alex and I made corn husk dolls using husks from our homegrown Bloody Butcher corn.  The corn itself is drying for our next project of grinding it into cornmeal. 

November 16, 2010

Shovel-cut Mashed Potatoes

  1. In the spring, gather your newborn daughter in a baby carrier and dig a trench.
  2. Have your older son toss the leftover, sprouting potatoes from your farm share and the seed potatoes you saved from last year haphazardly into said trench.
  3. Shovel over dirt hastily because your newborn daughter now wants to go inside and eat.
  4. Allow weeds to take over the garden as you spend your summer lazing on the beach...
  5. Get a bonus sunny day in November and remember that you still haven't dug up the potatoes.
  6. Throw the now 7 month-old daughter in the baby carrier and grab a shovel.
  7. Have a ton of fun with your older son seeing who can find the biggest potatoes and the biggest earthworms.
  8. Get your kitchen sink full of dirt washing the potatoes off.
  9. Have your son peel all the shovel-cut potatoes while you nurse the baby.
  10. Take time out to bandage the peeler cuts.
  11. Place the peeled potatoes into a pot of cold salted water.  Bring to a boil and cook until you "think" they are all tender.  
  12. Realize only after draining and smashing half that some are still underdone.  Kick yourself for not thinking about how the different varieties you grew are going to cook at different times.  
  13. Throw everything into a glass dish and microwave for 4 minutes. Mutter curse words to yourself in your head.  Retrieve exploring baby from the bathroom.
  14. Remove the potatoes from the microwave and toss them back into the pan along with unsweetened plain almond milk and Earth Balance margarine.  Smash the heck out of them.
  15. Serve with salt and pepper praying that no one will not notice the minuscule amount of still crunchy potatoes.
  16. While eating make grand plans with your son for next year's garden. 
Alex contemplating the meaning of life, or the meaning of potatoes?

November 13, 2010

Spiced Autumn Berry Jam and Vegan Lemon Yogurt Scones

The wild autumn berries on our land have been ripe for a few weeks now.  Autumn berry is a more attractive common name I found for autumn olive berries, scientifically known as Elaeagnus umbellata.  We have a ton of these invasive shrubs on our property and while they make for tasty snacking on hikes they shine the most in jam and fruit leather.

My son Alex and I picked a big load and I decided to spice up, literally, one batch of this year's jam.  Since I find the berry's flavor similar to cranberries, I chose to flavor them like my favorite cranberry relish.  This relish, which I typically make for Thanksgiving, includes oranges, cinnamon and ginger.  I also was craving fruit and black pepper together so I gave the jam a little extra heat with freshly ground black pepper.  To try out some of the jam I made lemon scones with coconut milk yogurt.  The scones were a special request from Alex and a great match for the jam.

For pictures of autumn berry bushes and more information see my first post on autumnberries, Autumn Olive Jam and Fruit Leather or read more about autumn berries and their controversal status.  Don't have access to autumn berries?  Buy some Michigan made jam from Food for Thought.

Spiced Autumn Berry Jam
Makes ~9 cups

5 cups seedless autumn berry pulp*
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
7 cups sugar
1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin

*To make the berry pulp:  Pull the berries from their stems, wash and drain them.  Add them to a pan with 1/2 cup of water for every 4 cups of berries and cook over medium high heat until the seeds are separating from the fruit flesh.  Use a food mill to remove the seeds.  Cool and store the prepared pulp in the fridge until needed.  Note that the pulp will separate into a milky liquid with red particles when cooled in the fridge. You will probably need at least 8 cups of berries to get the required 5 cups of pulp.

-Follow the standard SURE.JELL Directions for Berry Jam but add the ginger, zest, cinnamon and pepper along with the pectin at the start of the recipe.

Lemon Coconut Milk Yogurt Scones
Based on this Orange Yogurt Scone recipe from Taste of Home 
Makes 8-10 mini scones

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons coconut oil, solid
6 tablespoons plain So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt
1-2 tablespoons pearl or coarse sugar, optional

-Preheat your oven to 400 degress F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
-Sift or whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Then after that is whisked or sifted well add in the zest and stir or whisk to evenly distribute.
-Cut in the solid coconut oil with a fork or pastry cutter until there are no pieces of solid oil larger than a pea.
-Add the yogurt and stir in just until the dough comes together.
-Scoop with a medium disher (mini ice cream scoop) onto the lined baking sheet and press down the mounds slightly.  Or you can gather the dough into a flattened circle and cut into wedges.
-Sprinkle over the pearl or coarse sugar.
-Bake for ~12 minutes until light golden brown.

Penny came along for the berry picking.
Later that evening I found a bunch of berries that had fallen in her hood and gotten smashed, eww!
She and Fritz love to look out the doors and windows together.
P.S. Thanks to all those who are rooting for me in the Iron Foodie challenge. I got in! The box of mystery ingredients should be arriving early next week. Alex and I can't wait to see what's inside!

November 2, 2010

Application for Iron Foodie 2010

Iron Foodie 2010 | Here's Why that will be me: -- Fine Bulk Foods The Foodie BlogRoll

Marx Foods and the Foodie BlogRoll are teaming up to sponsor the first Iron Foodie challenge!  25 chosen  contestants will receive a package of 8 ingredients from Marx Foods' exotic collection of edibles.  There could be geoduck or black chicken or baby coconuts or matsutake mushrooms or fennel pollen!!!  Then the contestants will have to use 3 of the given ingredients to create a dish that could win $200 in store credit.  To begin the selection process I'm submitting these five questions so they can evaluate my worthiness.  Cross your fingers for me!

1. Why do you want to compete in this challenge?
I'm addicted cooking competition shows and would love a little taste of the excitement.  My eight year old son and I watch shows together and he would love to be the guest judge and taste my entry. 

2. Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in & why?   Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef?
Marie-Antoine Careme.  I'd love to see the work that went into such elaborate food without the aid of blenders, food processors, stand mixers and all the other gadgets we have today.  It would be fun even if I was turning the spit all day-- I would miss my iPad though. 

3. What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking?
Any crispy pork fat--stray bacon, crunchy end bits from barbecue, a bit of caramelized ham fat.  It's a public service I provide free of charge.

4. Sum your childhood up in one meal.
Cold tofu, cheese pirogi, and butter-dipped steamed artichokes.  As odd as this combination sounds it would not have been unusual for me as a kid.  

5. The one mainstream food you can’t stand?
Store bought cookies.  Cookies are ridiculously easy to make and the store bought ones taste like cardboard.  

October 29, 2010

DB Doughnuts (Donuts)

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

There is a reason a variation of fried dough exists in so many cultures---and that is Donuts Rock!  At least twice a year I whip out the frying equipment and make some donuts.  There is no beating a freshly homemade donut, I'd even venture to say that they could beat out a chocolate chip cookie on my favorites list.

For this month's challenge I gave the Nancy Silverton recipe a try.  In it I used So Delicious Coconut Yogurt in place of the sour cream and a mixture of the yogurt thinned with almond milk for the buttermilk.   They tasted decent (fried dough always does) but I overmixed and added a little more flour than I would have liked and they were a little too dense.  If you make this recipe be very careful not to use all of the flour unless you absolutely have to.  Thanks Lori for the nice challenge!

-This month I made the Nancy Silverton recipe for cake doughnuts.
-In place of the sour cream and buttermilk I used So Delicious Coconut Yogurt.
-I adapted the pumpkin donut recipe two years ago, take a look at my Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes (vegan).
-See Lori's blog, Butter Me Up, for all the doughnut recipes.
-Visit the Daring Kitchen and see other deep fried deliciousness made this month by browsing the Daring Baker Blogroll.

I feed them fresh donuts and this is how they repay me?  
Alex and his friend Keith got into a MAJOR slime fight on the donut day.
Penny was shocked!
But relieved to see that her brother cleaned up nicely.
She's busy cruising everywhere!

October 12, 2010

Gingery Turnips

My fall CSA shares from 9 Bean Rows started the same week I scored some locally grown fresh young ginger.  So I did a quicker take on this Food and Wine recipe.   I quickly blanched the halved roots and then fried them in olive oil with shallots, finely julienned ginger, the turnip tops and finished with a splash of umeboshi vinegar.  Yum!  

And Penny is tasting solid foods, here she is with some baked apple.

September 27, 2010

DB Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Our Daring Baker host this month gave us the challenge of making decorated sugar cookies.  This was a relatively easy challenge to do dairy-free.   I used a big vanilla bean for flavor and swapped Earth Balance margarine in place of the butter called for.  The technique in the given recipe was interesting.  It involves rolling the dough between parchment and then chilling the parchment sandwiched dough.  But the lower melting/softening temperature of EB tub margarine made the dough sticky and fussy.  I ended up improvising and tossing it in the freezer.  With the real whole vanilla bean in them, these cookies came out with decent vanilla flavor but they did spread more than I would have liked.  There needs to be some tweaking to make this recipe usable for more elaborate cookie cutters.  Or I'd have to compromise and use Earth Balance in stick form.

Mandy told us to decorate the cookies with September as the theme.  What could be better than a fresh pack of markers to celebrate back to school, edible food color markers that is, something I've been itching to have an excuse to buy.  Plus it made a fun coloring project for my son Alex.  Alex came up with a couple different designs including his recent favorite, the man-eating plant. I recruited my husband John for some cookie decorating and he made up a Raptisoft game trio of cookies.  I contributed an apple design so I could say I gave it a try.  Thanks for the challenge!

-The challenge recipes are available from our host Mandy who blogs at What the Fruitcake?!
-Mandy adapted the sugar recipes from Peggy Porschen.  They were published in Cosmopolitan Bride Oct/Nov 2008 and also found in her book, “Romantic Cakes”.
-The Royal Icing recipe adapted was from The Joy of Baking.
-Or you can buy royal icing mix, which is just powdered egg whites and powdered sugar.
-Visit the Daring Kitchen and see other sugary works of art made this month by browsing the Daring Baker Blogroll
Alex hamming it up with the markers
Drawing man-eating plants
The Raptisoft cookies, representing our games Solomon's Keep, Hoggy and Chuzzle

Alex's cookie creations
Fritz offers his tasting assistance
Meanwhile, Penny has been hanging out with Grandma at the Arts and Apples Festival
And getting her first tastes of solid food

August 30, 2010

DB Baked Alaskas

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I know August was here because I have a number of new freckles, unloaded pictures on my camera and sand in my purse to prove it, but usual there was more to do than time to do it in.  In spite of my grandiose plans to wow all with my dairy-free baked Alaskas I instead bring you my thrown together, last minute attempt at this month's Daring Baker challenge.

We were given a brown butter cake recipe and I was enamored of our host's tag line, "Nutty and toasty meets cool and creamy."  However, margarine is not the kind of thing that improves with browning.  I instead played with the given pound cake recipe to make it toasted almond flavored.   I made a test loaf with the recipe quartered so I would only need one egg and could bake it in a mini loaf pan for just a few individual Alaskas.  I replaced the butter with coconut oil plus two tablespoons of almond flour.  Then I followed the butter browning and cooling directions with my coconut oil/almond flour mixture to get the most nutty flavor out of the ground nuts.  When I added the vanilla extract I also added in an eighth of a teaspoon of almond extract.  The resulting mini loaf was delicious!!  

I stuck with the ice cream recipe from Speedbump Kitchen I used last month but I flavored it with a real vanilla bean in addition to vanilla extract.  My only major trouble came when I beat my egg whites for the meringue cover.  They looked nice and glossy and not overbeaten when I finished beating them but in the time it took to turn around and get the piping bag ready they took on a slightly curdled texture.  Maybe it was the heat?  Either way I loved the cake and my son appreciated another baking challenge that included ice cream.  Thanks Elissa!  

-You can find the challenge recipes at our host Elissa's site, 17 and Baking.  She collaborated with Jen of Sugar High Fridays.
-Or you can go to original sources.  Elissa got her ice cream recipe from The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments and the Brown Butter Pound Cake recipe from Epicurious
-The ice cream recipe I made was the "The World's Easiest Dairy-Free and Egg-Free Vanilla Ice Cream" from Speedbump Kitchen (click to see all her other ice cream flavors.)
-I replaced the soy creamer with So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer.  I tried using the Original flavor this month but I recommend using the French Vanilla flavor instead. 
-Visit the Daring Kitchen and see other ice cream treats made this month by browsing the Daring Baker Blogroll

Naked Alaskas
Unbaked Alaskas
Alex at the NW Michigan Fair at the Cooking the Kids event making a sandwich wrap
And vegetable pasta salad
And blowing bubbles at the Buckley Old Engine Show.
Abbie has been murdering mice all summer
Sadly our duck Coco was killed by a predator while we were on vacation.  We suspect a weasel.
The others are doing well and free ranging more now that the dogs are back to protect them.
Penny is smiling and laughing.
And trying to wear all the cute clothes she got as gifts before the summer ends.
And she started rolling on our vacation to South Carolina and travels across the rooms getting into mischief.
Enjoy the rest of the summer all!

This is the almond flour I used, the cups I formed the Alaskas in and the cutters I used to cut out a slice of cake.  Love 'em all!