Is it a biscuit or a savory scone?

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I have been noticing recipes for savory scones for quite some time, and they are fantastic! I have made a few of those recipes and have really questioned the difference between biscuit baking and scone formulas. They have the same basic ingredients: flour, leavening agent, salt, butter and milk or buttermilk. Sugar seems to be a key difference in that biscuits have less than scones, yet savory scones have very little sugar as well. Then there is the similarities in the basic method. Both biscuits and scones have cold butter (some biscuits have cold shortening in some combination as well) which is a requirement if you wish to have light, flaky products. So, when do you call it a biscuit and when should it be referred to as a scone? Here is the rule at our house: if it’s dinner time then it is a biscuit, and if it is breakfast or brunch, then it is a scone. Either way, these are delicious!

These are made with roasted sweet potatoes. I word about this ingredient. I know that different areas of the country call these by various names. Whether they are called yams or golden sweet potatoes really doesn’t matter because they all taste great. I like to use the orange sweet potatoes from my local grocery store because of the color of the biscuit/scones.  Whichever you choose, you can’t go wrong!

Begin by preheating an oven to 425°F and roasting your yam or sweet potato until it is soft to the touch. Allow it to cool completely.

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The vegetable is combined with fresh ground nutmeg and buttermilk and ground in a food processor until smooth.

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I also use the food processor to combine the flour, baking soda, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt. This mixture is quickly pulsed to mix.

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1 1/2 sticks of cold butter is added and pulsed until it is the size of small marbles, or peas.

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The two mixtures are combined until a soft, sticky dough forms.

The dough is turned out onto a floured board. Resist the urge to use a rolling pin as the dough is too soft and tacky to roll out. Using floured hands, pat the dough into a circle, approximately 3/4 of an inch thick and, using a 2 1/2 inch floured, fluted biscuit cutter, punch out the discs.

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Just to confuse the biscuit/scone controversy even further, I brushed the tops with melted butter (like a biscuit) and sprinkled them with vanilla sugar (like a scone).

These were baked at 425°F for 25 minutes.

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They are nice and light, just as a biscuit or scone should be, and they rose nicely with many layers.

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Whatever you choose to call them, you will be happy you gave them a try!

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Sweet Potato Savory Scones

  • Servings: about 12, 2 1/2 inch scones
  • Difficulty: easy
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These savory pastries are a flavorful addition to your dinner or as a slightly sweet treat at Sunday brunch

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-1 lb sweet potatoes, 2-3 small potatoes or 1 large one

-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

-2 to 4 Tablespoons buttermilk, cold

-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

-3 Tablespoons brown sugar

-1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/4 teaspoon allspice

-3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

-1 1/2 sticks butter, cold

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Poke the potatoes with the tines of a fork and bake until tender, about 40 minutes to 1 hour. Allow the potato to cool and then peel and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add the nutmeg and 2 Tablespoons of the buttermilk. Process until smooth and add more buttermilk, 1 Tablespoon at a time, to thin the puree if needed. Set aside.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to briefly combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small marbles or peas. Fold in the sweet potato mixture until just combined, do not over mix.
  3. Turn out the soft, sticky dough onto a well floured counter top. Pat the dough, with floured hands, into a disc 3/4 inch thick. Cut out scones with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake at 425°F until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.

ENJOY!

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His and Hers Ravioli

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A couple weeks ago I posted a picture on Instagram of a ravioli dinner my husband and I had before a training run. A short time later, my mother-in-law told me that they had seen the picture and my father-in-law was bugging her to make a ravioli dinner for them. Here’s the problem, my MIL doesn’t eat cheese! And, in a cruel twist of fate, neither does our daughter! Many a time food has gone back to the kitchen at restaurants because a shred of cheese dared to touch the plate! This is a big deal people.

As it turns out, it is near impossible to find a prepackaged ravioli from a grocery store that does not contain cheese-tortellini, yes-but not ravioli. Of course, in another cruel twist of fate, my FIL loves cheese, and since they have been married for 50+ years, they obviously have figured out how to deal with this issue! In an attempt to be helpful, I brilliantly said “I will make you some ravioli with and without cheese!”

And then my quest began. It has been, at least, 5 years since I attempted to make fresh pasta, and it wasn’t a huge success at that time. I did learn a few things however. For example, the pasta should be rolled as thin as possible, but not too thin that the filling will burst out. I also figured out that even fresh pasta noodles need time to dry before going into the water. Oh, and not vigorously boiling water either! I had the best results, all those years ago, when I brought the water to a heavy boil and then lowered the heat before adding the noodles. I finally settled on a plan of action: I would prepare the filling first then work on the pasta dough, that way I could split up the work into more manageable chunks and troubleshoot along the way.

The filling. I wanted to use a meat filling because half the ravioli batch would not have cheese and I felt it needed some heft to it. Perhaps in the future I can work on a vegetarian option, but for now I wanted to stick with what I know. I looked at a number of recipes and settled on a chicken and pork combination. I browned 3/4 pounds of ground chicken and 3/4 of a pound of ground pork in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Each batch of meat was drained and split between two bowls.

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I then sautéed 1/2 of a yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves, spinach and sage. This mixture was also divided.

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At this point the mixtures are identical

One bowl was selected for the addition of goat cheese and gruyere. Now is the time for salt and pepper. The cheese mixture received 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and I added 2 teaspoons of salt (since there was not addititonal salt from the cheese) and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to the non cheese combo.

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I next passed both filling preparations through a food processor so that the filling could be placed into the ravioli. I was careful to process the non cheese filling first, so there would be no chance of “cheese contamination” to the non cheese mixture.

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The top bowl has no cheese, the bottom has both goat cheese and the gruyere.

The fillings were covered and stored in the refrigerator for later assembly with the pasta.

The pasta. I prefer the taste of pasta made with semolina flour, although all purpose and 00 flour work well too, if you can find it. Generally, pasta is made by creating a well in the flour and salt mixture followed by the addition of eggs, water and oil to the middle of the well. A fork is used to slowly bring the sides of the flour into the center. This is done to give the flour time to adsorb the moisture. Once a ragged dough forms you begin kneading the dough by hand until it is a soft, smooth ball.

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This works fine, but it does make a huge mess. I decided I would let my mixer do some of the work for me. I added the flour and salt into a the mixing bowl and used the dough hook attachment to stir on low speed. A well was naturally created, I poured the eggs, water and oil into the well and mixed on low speed until the flour was slowly incorporated into a loose ball. Then I placed the ball onto the counter, with the reserve flour and continued kneading by hand.

 

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The kneading incorporated an additional 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and took about 12 minutes. The result was a smooth and soft ball of dough that needs, at least 30 minutes of bench rest to allow the gluten to relax. I covered the dough and let it rest for 1 1/2 hours.

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I worked with 1/4 of the ball at a time, making sure to keep the rest of the dough covered. I have a very simple, hand crank system for pasta making.

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I think I bought this from Bed, Bath and Beyond. It clamps to the bench top and has 7 settings. I began on the widest setting (7 on my machine), taking care that both the pasta rollers and the dough were heavily floured. The dough was passed through the rollers, floured, folded into thirds and passed through again. This helps to further knead the dough and helps to form the rectangle shape. I then lowered the width of the rollers and passed the dough through several times. The dough no longer should be folded at this point. Just keep passing the dough through the thinner setting (to about settings 3 or 4) until the desired consistency is acheived.

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Thicker dough from widest settings

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Thinner dough sheet from setting 4

I used an inexpensive ravioli mold, small rolling pin and pasta cutter to form the ravioli.

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I laid one sheet over the mold, filled the depressions with ~1 teaspoon of either filling, covered with a second thin pasta sheet and rolled to cut the dough with the small rolling pin. I had to go over the mold several times with the rolling pin and make the final cuts with the pasta cutter. It took awhile to get this down, but once I had practiced with a couple dozen I figured out a system that worked for me.

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Brushing the pasta with an egg wash helps the second layer of dough adhere

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Then I just had to repeat this for a total of 10 dozen ravioli! I laid them in a single layer (or they will stick together!) on a parchment lined sheet pan to dry for an hour or so. After that you can cook them or freeze them. I put the single layer sheet pan in the freezer for an hour, after that they can go into a bag without sticking together.

The next day was the taste test! I decided to pair this with a simple tomato based sauce.

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I began by sautéing both red and yellow grape tomatoes in olive oil

 

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Then added corn and capers

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finally arugula, pine nuts, lemon juice, lemon zest, basil and the ravioli that had been added to lightly boiling water. A sprinkle of basil finished it off.

Now to taste it!

 

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It was actually pretty good! Could it be better? Always! I would suggest adding some red pepper flakes for some heat, or maybe some apple cider vinegar to brighten it up a bit. I will try that next time. The good news is that I have plenty in the freezer to continue experimenting and combining flavors. Do give this a try with your favorite fillings and let me know! I will be taking both versions to my in laws next week to see if they like them, I hope they do!

His and Hers Ravioli

  • Servings: about 10 dozen ravioli
  • Difficulty: moderate to advanced
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Fresh pasta from semolina flour provides the perfect canvas for your family's favorite flavors. This recipe is extremely versatile and the extra steps are well worth the effort!

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

For the Filling:

-2 Tablespoons olive oil

-3/4 pound ground chicken

-3/4 pound ground pork

-1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

-2 garlic cloves, minced

-2 cups fresh spinach

-2 teaspoons sage, chopped

-2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

-3 oz. gruyere, grated

For the Pasta:

-2 1/2 cups semolina flour

-1/2 cup all purpose flour plus more for dusting

-1 teaspoon kosher salt

-4 eggs

-4 Tablespoons water

-4 Tablespoons olive oil

-1egg, broken up for an egg wash

For the Sauce:

-1 pint each red and yellow grape tomatoes

-1 Tablespoon olive oil

-2 ears of cooked corn with corn removed from the cob

-4 oz. fresh arugula

-3 oz. pine nuts, toasted

-2 Tablespoons capers

-Zest of 1 lemon

-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

-2 Tablespoons of basil, chopped

Directions

  1. Prepare filling. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a cast iron, or heavy bottom pan. Brown the chicken and the pork until no longer pink in the center. Break up large chunks as you stir. Drain and divide equally into two medium sized bowls.
  2. Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the spinach and sage and heat until wilted. Divide equally between the bowls.
  3. To one bowl add: goat cheese, gruyere, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. To the other add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
  4. Process the mixtures separately in a food processor until a finely ground consistency is achieved, cover and refrigerate. Make the ravioli.

Prepare the pasta:

  1. Place flour and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer and, using a dough hook, mix on low until a well appears in the flour. While this is happening, beat the eggs, water and oil in a liquid measuring cup with a pour spout.
  2. With the mixer on low, pour the liquid into the center of the well and allow the dough hook to slowly incorporate the flour into a ball.
  3. Turn the slightly sticky dough out onto a well floured counter and continued kneading by hand. Incorporate the additional 1/2 cup of flour as you knead to achieve a smooth and soft dough. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. After the dough has relaxed, pass 1/4 of the dough through a pasta maker or roll out by hand. Continue rolling until a thin sheet of pasta has been achieved. You will need to move from the widest setting for the rollers to one of the lower settings (not the lowest). Do not make the pasta too thin or it will tear due to the filling.
  5. Lay one sheet over the ravioli mold pan, if using, and fill the pockets with ~1 teaspoon of filling. Lightly brush the pasta with the egg wash then lay another pasta sheet over the filled pockets. Press the two sheets together to remove any air bubbles.
  6. Place finished ravioli on a parchment lined pan, in a single layer for, at least 1 hour, to dry. Cook immediately or place in freezer for 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer bag for longer storage.

For the Sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Slice the tomatoes in half, lengthwise and heat in the oil. Add the corn and cook for a few minutes.
  2. At the same time, heat a large pot of water for the ravioli. Be sure to use enough water for the amount of pasta you are planning to cook, and salt the water heavily.
  3. Lower the heat on the tomatoes and add the pine nuts, and capers. When the water for the pasta begins to boil, lower the heat and add the frozen ravioli. They will take between 5 to 8 minutes to cook.
  4. When the ravioli are done add them to the sauce and add the lemon juice, lemon zest, pine nuts and fresh basil, toss gently to coat the ravioli.

 

blob:https://www.pinterest.com/049f0ce7-1236-4935-bcab-a04359ebad60

 

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Sally’s Baking Addiction, June Challenge: The Classic Icebox Cake

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I have to confess, I have never made an icebox cake. I know that they are the quintessential summer dessert, and I understand why. They are extremely easy to make and the basic steps are: assemble, freeze and eat. So why have I been so resistant? It’s the whipped cream component that is off-putting for my family. Please don’t hate me! We just don’t like whipped cream, all four of us! I think it is a textural problem. We do, however, all love ice cream. So when I saw that Sally’s challenge for June was a blueberry lemon icebox cake, I decided it was time to confront this issue once and for all. After all, is that not the point of challenging oneself?

My first thought was that I needed to figure out how to make lemon ice cream. I did a lot of searching for ideas and decided I would create a limoncello- honey ice cream recipe.

 

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I really love the depth of flavor created by adding limoncello, lemon juice and lemon zest, and I wanted to sweeten the ice cream with a combination of honey and sugar.

This ice cream recipe is like many others in that it begins with the cooking of a custard, which must be cooled before adding to the ice cream machine. I combined heavy cream, milk and honey in a large sauce pan and brought it slowly to a simmer. While the dairy components were heating, I combined egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium bowl.

Once the honey had dissolved in the simmering milk, I tempered the egg mixture by slowly adding a portion of the warm liquid to the eggs and whisked continuously. The trick here is to add the hot liquid SLOWLY and to keep whisking so the eggs do not scramble. If you do this correctly you then can add the  tempered eggs back into the milk mixture without getting clumps (which are effectively scrambled eggs). Don’t worry, if you do have some cooked egg you can simply strain it out at the end of the cooking process. Continue to cook the custard until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Then strain if necessary and put into a container to cool. I always put my ice cream base in a measuring cup so it is easier to pour directly into the ice cream machine. This base needs at least an hour to cool completly.

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You may be thinking, “wait you forgot the limoncello”! I like to add liqueurs at the end of the cooling process. Flavors change when a mixture is hot or cold. If I add the limoncello now, the flavor will be less intense after cooling. So, I will add 1 Tablespoon/cup and check the flavor before it goes into the machine.

While the base cools, you can make the blueberry sauce, which also needs to spend some time in the refrigerator before assembling the final dessert.

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Begin by combining cornstarch, lemon juice and warm water. Mix thoroughly and set aside this will be your thickening agent.

 

 

Next combine the blueberries, sugar and lemon zest. Put over medium heat and cook until the juices begin to release. Add the cornstarch slurry and continue to cook until thick. Place the sauce in a container and chill.

It’s seriously that easy! I went rock climbing for a couple hours while everything cooled off. When I returned it was time to fire up the ice cream machine.

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I let this churn for 30 minutes because I wanted a soft consistency for spreading into the pan. While the machine did all the hard work, I prepared the 9 X 5 loaf pan which would be the mold. The key for getting the cake out of the pan is to line it with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic hangs over the sides as they will be the handles for lifting the frozen cake out the next day.

As I was working on this it occurred to me that the bottom would be the top, after the cake was inverted onto a serving dish. I thought it might be fun to attempt to have some sort of decoration on the top of the cake. But how to pull that off? I settled on placing a piece of parchment on the bottom of the pan.

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Then I took some thinly sliced lemon rounds and halved blueberries and “glued” them to the parchment with honey. I wanted the design to stay put when I spread the ice cream over them.

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After fixing the garnish to the paper, I put the pan into the freezer for 10-15 minutes

This was a huge gamble! I was not convinced it would work at all.

Now it is time to assemble the dessert! I gathered all the components: limoncello-honey ice cream, blueberry sauce, graham crackers and the prepared pan.

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Working with efficiency, so the ice cream doesn’t melt, begin the layering.

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Start by adding a thin layer of ice cream to the bottom of the pan. This will help the graham crackers adhere. Then a thicker layer of ice cream (or whip cream if using).

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Next add  half the blueberry sauce mixture and spread without mixing the two layers too much. You want layers, not a marbling affect in the end. Next is another layer of cream, then a layer of graham crackers. Then repeat: cream, the other half of the blueberry sauce, more cream.

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My final layer was composed of graham crackers, but you could add another layer of cream if you so desired.

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This was covered with foil and put into the freezer overnight.

 

 

The next day, it was time for the big reveal. Would this work with ice cream? Would the design I “glued” to the parchment paper be there? Would the limoncello ice cream be tasty?

Well, the design is (sort of) there. Perhaps if I had made the slices a little thicker? And, one of the blueberries moved, but overall I am happy with this first try! I will try this idea again! But how does is it taste? I am going in!

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Yes! delicious – love the lemon flavor in the ice cream and the blueberry sauce.

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This is also a really pretty dessert! It is quick, even faster if you just make it with the lemon whipped cream!

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Each of these individual components are quite tasty on their own. The ice cream would be great on a hot summer evening. And, the blueberry sauce would be wonderful over some vanilla ice cream, or as part of a dessert that requires a thick fruit compote. Since they are great as stand alone dishes, I have included the individual recipes as well as the formula for the icebox cake layering technique. I would encourage you to try any one of these, if you are not interested in the icebox cake itself.

Another great idea from Sally’s Baking Addiction! Give this one a try!

 

Limoncello-Honey Ice Cream

  • Servings: about 4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Limoncello liqueur adds a depth of flavor to this lemony-citrus ice cream

Credit: Invisible-no-more

Ingredients

-1 1/2 cups milk

-1 cup heavy cream

-1/4 cup honey

-1/4 cup granulated sugar

-2 Tablespoons lemon zest

-1 Tablespoon lemon juice

-5 egg yolks

-3 Tablespoons limoncello liqueur, or to taste

Directions

  1. Add milk, cream and honey to a medium sauce pan and heat on low-medium until simmering. Small  bubbles will appear around the edge of the pan. Heat until the honey is completely dissolved.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and egg yolks. Whisk to incorporate. Slowly add some of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks while whisking constantly. This is tempering the egg mixture. Combine the tempered egg mixture with the warm milk by adding the egg yolks back into pot of warm milk and continue to cook an additional 8-10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture continuously until it coats the back of the spoon.
  3. Remove from the heat, cover and chill in the refrigerator until cool (about 1 hour).
  4. Once the custard base is cool, add the limoncello liqueur. Transfer to an ice cream maker and follow the manufactures instructions. Process for 30 minutes for soft serve or freeze for an additional 2 hours for a firmer consistency.

 

Blueberry Sauce

  • Servings: about 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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This lemony blueberry sauce is great for serving over ice cream or as a component to any baked item that requires a thickened fruit filling

Credit: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

-2 teaspoons cornstarch

-2 teaspoon lemon juice

-1 Tablespoon warm water

-2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

-2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

-1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

  1. Whisk the cornstarch, lemon juice, and warm water together in a small bowl until the cornstarch has dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Warm the blueberries and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously for 3 minutes until the blueberry juices begin to release. Add the cornstarch mixture and continue to stir for another 2-3 minutes, smashing some blueberries as you go. The mixture will start to thicken.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest. Place in the refrigerator until completely cooled ~ 1 hour.

Limoncello Ice(cream)box Cake

  • Servings: 10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
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A twist on the icebox cake that uses limoncello-honey ice cream in place of the traditional whipped cream

Credit: Invisible-no-more

Ingredients

-Limoncello-Honey ice cream, recipe above

-Blueberry sauce, recipe above

-8-10 graham cracker, about 1 sleeve

Directions

  1. Prepare a 9 inch X 5 inch loaf pan by lining the entire inside with plastic wrap. Make sure there is enough plastic that will hang over the sides of the pan. This will be the “handles” that you will use to lift the frozen cake from the form.
  2. If desired, add a cut piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Secure a garnish of your choosing, with honey as the “glue”. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to secure the garnish.
  3. Spread a thin layer of ice cream over the bottom of the pan (and garnish, if using) to help the graham cracker layer to adhere. Place the first layer of graham crackers in the bottom, add a layer of ice cream, then half the blueberry sauce, another layer of ice cream and then repeat: Crackers, ice cream, the other half of the blueberry sauce, ice cream. The final layer maybe the graham cracker layer or another layer of ice cream, if you have enough at that point.
  4. Cover with foil and place in the freezer for, at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  5. Allow the cake to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes then unwrap and invert onto a serving dish. Slice with a sharp knife that has been run under hot water, and quickly dried, to make clean slices. Garnish with lemon slices, lemon zest and/or blueberries.

 

Pulled Pork with Lemon and Garlic on a Potato Herb Roll

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I have been making this pulled pork for quite some time. It is one of our favorite preparations and, if there is a healthier way to make a pork sandwich, then this is it. But, the real star of this dish is the potato herb rolls that I can customize with with any herbs that will complement whatever fillings will be in the sandwich. In this case the pork is made with garlic and lemon so I used thyme, rosemary, dried parsley and onion powder to flavor the rolls.

The pulled pork could not be easier, in fact I hesitate to call this a recipe. I take a 4-5 pound pork shoulder and trim off any excess fat. It goes into a slower cooker and I add several garlic cloves, 1 large lemon cut into quarters or two smaller lemons halved. To ensure the pork is not dry I add about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of low sodium chicken stock. Thats it! It cooks on low for 8 hours or until it falls apart.

Near the end of the cooking process, I remove the lemons and garlic and reserve the latter for the sandwich. The garlic is perfectly roasted and spreads easily on the roll if you are interested in doing so-and I always do!

Of course, rolls form scratch do take a little more time and effort but are so worth it.

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I use a 6 quart stand mixer with a dough hook attachment for these rolls. You can use a small mixer but note that the final dough will be about 4 1/2 pounds in weight. Most 4 quart mixers will be fine with that, but you could half the recipe if needed. I made 24, 3 oz sandwich rolls from that amount of dough, which would yield about 35, 2 oz dinner rolls. These rolls freeze very well and you could store the extra for several weeks and then refresh as needed.

You will begin by combining all the ingredients, minus the herbs into the mixing bowl and adding temperature controlled water (not shown). In my kitchen I use water at 100°F but anywhere from 80-100°F will work. Mix on low to incorporate then turn to medium to knead for 7-9 minutes. What you are looking for is what is called a “window pane”. This lets you know when the dough has reached its correct gluten development. There is no real mystery about this step. After ~about 7 minutes, turn off the mixer and pull out a small amount of the dough, it will be slightly sticky. Stretch the dough between your thumbs and forefingers into the shape of a rectangle. If the dough breaks it is not ready, the gluten strands are too short. Continue kneading. The dough temperature should be rising as well, and it will be near 77°F to 80°F when the dough is fully developed. Keep checking these two parameters. Eventually, your window pane will be strong, and transparent. Light should be able to show through the dough, without ripping or tearing, as it will be so thin it appears to be a “window”.IMG_1851

Add whatever freshly chopped or dried herbs you want and mix just until the additions are incorporated and evenly distributed.

Cover the dough and allow it to ferment until doubled (about an hour).

Now you can punch it down to degas and divide into the portion size you desire. Shape and place on a parchment lined sheet to proof until 70-80% larger in size.

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Once proofed they need an egg wash and a sprinkle of sea salt. Since I was not adding salt to the pork, I was generous with this!

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Bake, without steam, at 375°F for ~20 minutes or until golden brown.

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These are wonderful on their own or with any type of sandwich you wish to build. The smaller dinner roll version is great with soups and stews as well.

Of course, we had pulled pork in the slow cooker! I shredded the pork and we built our sandwiches. We went with arugula and a grilled pineapple relish with candied peppers! An outstanding combination!

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Let me know if you try either of these recipes!

Pulled Pork with Lemon and Garlic

  • Servings: 24, 3oz rolls
  • Difficulty: Easy
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This Pulled Pork has no added salt or sugar. The lemon and garlic add wonderful flavor

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-4 to 5 pound pork shoulder or pork butt, trimmed of excess fat

-5 to 6 whole garlic cloves, peeled

-2 small lemons, halved

-low sodium chicken broth or water

-grilled pineapple salsa

-arugula

-potato herb rolls (recipe below)

Directions

  1. Place the pork shoulder, garlic and lemon halves into a slow cooker. Add broth or water to about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch on the bottom. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  2. Near the end of the cooking time, remove the lemons and reserve the garlic for the sandwich build. Continue cooking the pork until if falls apart easily. Shred the meat with two forks and keep the meat warm in the slow cooker.
  3. Build the sandwich with a potato herb roll spread with the reserved garlic (if using), add the grilled pineapple relish, pulled pork and arugula.

Potato Herb Rolls

  • Servings: 24, 3oz. rolls
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

These Potato herb rolls can be customized with any herbs you would like to use to complement your meal.

Credit: On Baking, Text book, 3rd edition

Ingredients

-2 lb 2 oz. Bread flour

-3 oz. Potato flour

-1 oz. Instant yeast

-21 fl. oz. Water, temperature controlled 80°F to 100°F

-2 Eggs

-1.5 oz. Dry milk powder

-2.5 oz. Granulated sugar

-3/4 oz. Salt

-3 fl. oz. Olive oil

Suggested Herbs:

-1 oz. Fresh Parsley, finely chopped or 1/2 oz. dried

-2 teaspoons Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried

-2 teaspoons of Fresh Thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried

-1 teaspoon onion powder

-1 teaspoon garlic powder

-1 teaspoon Black pepper

-Egg wash, as needed

-Kosher salt or fleur de sel, as needed

Directions

  1. Place flours, yeast, water, eggs, milk powder, sugar, salt, and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed to combine then knead on medium speed until a window pane is achieved and the dough is 77°F (about 7-9 min.). Add in the herbs and mix until the herbs are well distributed throughout the dough.
  2. Cover the dough and ferment until doubled in size (~1 hour).
  3. Punch down the dough and portion into 3 oz pieces. Shape and place on a parchment lined sheet pan.
  4. Proof until the rolls are 70-80% in volume.
  5. Carefully brush the proofed rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle with the salt.
  6. Bake without steam at 375°F for ~20 minutes until golden brown.

 

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Cinnamon Apple Babka

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As you well know by now, I do love to bake bread! I have been wanting to try a babka for some time and finally got around to developing this one. This is a bread that is slightly sweet and you can amp it up with more filling but we like a little less fruit and more of that bread flavor! I had a lot of apples after a recent Costco trip so I have been working them into every dish possible! This recipe can easily make two loaves, and I have included those options in the recipe located at the bottom of this post. Today, however, I decided to make a large, braided loaf and have also included that option, should you feel the need to have an enormous sweet bread centerpiece for your table!

This enriched dough begins with the making of a sponge, which is just water, yeast and sugar that has time to allow for the yeast to activate. Start by combining the yeast, brown sugar and temperature controlled water and let is sit for 30 minutes.

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After blooming the surface will have small bubbles and there will be a yeasty aroma

Next add the flour, oil, salt, egg yolks and eggs to the sponge.

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Knead the dough until a smooth, but slightly sticky ball forms and place in a lightly greased, large bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 2 hours.

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While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon and apple filling. Whisk together the cinnamon, sugar and flour in a small bowl and set aside. The most important part of preparing the apples is to extract as much moisture as possible so that your dough will not be soggy. I did this by peeling, coring and grating the apples then placing them in a double lined paper towel and squeezing the water from the apples. There is a surprising amount of water that will drain out. I did this in small batches and cheesecloth would work well, but I didn’t have any on hand, so paper towels it had to be! Place the dried apple pieces into a bowl and immediately add the lemon zest and lemon juice, tossing to coat. Then add in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Set aside until the dough is ready.

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Now comes the tricky part of shaping and filling the bread. I will refer you to this excellent tutorial from King Arthur Flour on how to shape babkas. This site has all the options that I mention in the recipe with step by step instructions and pictures. At this point you need to decide if you want two loaves or one braided loaf. In either case you begin the same way, divide the risen dough into two equal portions.

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Roll one portion out to about 9″ X 18″ and spread half the cinnamon apple filling over the rectangle, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the perimeter. Start with the long side and roll into a log shape, much like you would if you were making cinnamon rolls. Pinch the bottom seam and the ends shut to contain the fillings. Repeat with the second portion of dough.

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At this point you may opt to make two loaves using the classic twist, or the sliced braid methods discussed on the King Arthur site and my recipe write up, I will discuss the process for making the single, braided loaf.

Begin by slicing the log lengthwise to form 4 “ropes”.

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Working with the filling side up, make a plus sign with the intersection at the middle of each rope. Then repeat with the other two strips to form a second plus sign that interlocks with the first one.

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Working clockwise, fold every other strip over the neighboring end, then repeat with the ends that extend but go in the opposite direction (counterclockwise) this time. Here is the  King Arthur photos for reference (they use their chocolate babka).

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You will have some ends left over, just tuck them under the loaf. Place the loaf onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover and allow to proof for another 45 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and baked thorough the center.

While the bread cools mix the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, cinnamon extract, vanilla seeds and slowly adding enough milk or water to create a drizzling consistency. When the bead has cooled completely, drizzle with the glaze.

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I know that there are a lot of steps for this but it is so worth it! If you are not up for the braid, then try the simple loaf shapes highlighted on the King Arthur site and let me know what you think! Happy baking!

cinnamon apple babka recipe

 

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

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When I saw this recipe for homemade Reese’s Peanut butter eggs, I knew I had to try it. Our family, like most others, love these things, and I am a huge fan of The Recipe Critic. I find her recipes to be easy and great tasting. But I got to thinking about those decorated eggs I would get in my Easter basket as a kid.

Like this one from See’s Candies

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My frugal grandmother would always buy these after Easter when they were half price and gave them to my sister and I a year later as our “special treat”. Unfortunately, my memory of them, after 12 long months in grandma’s closet, was that they were not delicious, pretty, but not yummy. I decided to try to make the decorated exterior with the delicious peanut butter chocolate egg combo that we all love.

The peanut butter mixture comes together fast, it is only 4 ingredients: creamy peanut butter, powdered sugar, melted butter and a little milk.  I rolled it out just like you would a sugar cookie dough. I did not have an egg shaped cutter so I traced around a large egg to make a pattern. I actually made two templates, one larger and one a little smaller. The 24 “eggs” were placed onto a cookie sheet and went into the refrigerator. The directions state to freeze for an hour before coating with chocolate but I was going rock climbing for a few hours so I opted for the fridge.

The chocolate mix was milk chocolate chips and shortening.

 

 

The chocolate coating was perfect, great consistency and easily covered the cold peanut butter eggs. I did have some extra chocolate that I did not want to waste so I stole my son’s Oreo cookies that he keeps hidden in his room -he thinks I don’t know about his junk food stash-and dipped a dozen in the chocolate.

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These were delicious! And so were the eggs, they tasted exactly like the Reese’s version!

The next step was to make Antonia74’s Royal Icing Recipe, which I used before when I made Christmas Cookies. I only prepared a half recipe which was plenty for these two dozen eggs.

I colored a portion each green, pink, yellow, blue and left some the original white. I bagged up each color and used a variety of tips for lines, leaves, grass, and flowers. I had pastel candies for decorations. It has been a while since I used my tips so it was fun to get into the decorating!

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You do not need to go this extra step to enjoy the recipe, these things are delicious without the decor! They are easy to make and store-really, everyone will love these!

 

ENJOY!

 

Three layer Lasagna

We have a crazy schedule this next week. As a family, we are all over the place! Our son has a performance one night, my husband is working two nights, we are rock climbing a couple days and we have 17 miles on the half marathon training schedule this week! We need some easy, fast, quality fuel that any one of us can just throw into the oven or microwave whenever we find time for a meal. So, I made a recipe that always delivers! It’s one that I have been tinkering with for a few years. I finally have decided that it is exactly how I want it. This three layer lasagna will feed us for the week, and it will taste just as good next Friday as it does tonight on Sunday.

There are a couple components to make before the assembly but they are simple and quick. I started with the preparation of the noodles. I followed the package instructions and intentionally under cooked the pasta as it will continue the baking process after assembly of the lasagna.

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I placed the par boiled noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet and coated them with olive oil to prevent sticking. Next I started on the tomato meat sauce.

I sautéed the onion and garlic first then added the sweet Italian sausage and cooked until the pink color was gone. Then the tomato products, seasoning, and herbs were added and the mixture simmered until thickened. The final component was the cheese mixture which included ricotta, goat cheese, pecorino and parmesan. There are a total of five cheeses in this recipe!

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Then it was time to assemble the final product. I like to use a larger baking dish (10 in X 17 in) and place the noodles along the short side, 6 lasagna noodle fit for each layer.

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The layers are as follows: 1/3 of the tomato meat sauce, 1/2 of the cheese mixture, 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella, and repeat.

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The final layer has the last 1/3 of the tomato sauce, 1/3 mozzarella and big handfuls of more pecorino and parmesan cheese. Since all the components are already cooked the lasagna only needs to heat through and brown on top. I garnish with fresh herbs at the end.

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I made a quick garlic bread to finish the meal and we were ready to eat!

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You can view the recipe by clicking on the link below, I hope you give it a try!

 

three layer lasagna