04 June 2013

Granola Bars

How to Make Homemade Granola Bars
Makes 8 bars
from Emma Christensen at The Kitchn

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup puffed quinoa cereal
1/2 cup chopped nuts, of any variety
1/2 - 1 cup dried fruit(s)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 - 1 teaspoon spices (optional, for making a specialty type bar)
3 tablespoons peanut butter or 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11"x7" baking pan with parchment, leaving extra parchment to hang over the sides. Lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray or butter. If desired, toast the nuts and grains for 10-15 minutes until toasted and fragrant.

2. Mix the oats, cereal, nuts, and dried fruit together in a mixing bowl.

3. Warm the rice syrup for 10-15 seconds in the microwave or in a small saucepan over medium heat. It should be just warm enough to pour, not to sizzle when salt & spices are added. Mix in the vanilla extract, salt, spices (if using), and peanut butter or cocoa powder.

4. Pour the rice syrup over the dry ingredients. Stir the rice syrup into the dry ingredients until the ingredients are completely coated and start to stick together in clumps.

5. Pour/scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and firmly press the mixture into the pan.

6. Bake the bars for 20-25 minutes for chewy granola bars or 25-30 minutes for crunchy bars. As soon as you remove the bars from the oven, press them again with the back of a lightly oiled spatula. (This will give you more compacted granola bars.)

7. Let the bars cool completely in the pan. They will firm up as they cool. Once cooled, cut into 8 bars in the pan with a very sharp knife, then lift the bars by the flaps of parchment to remove from the pan. Store between layers of wax paper in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

04 April 2013

Mint Chocolate Ice Cream

Last weekend at the farmers' market, there was proof of a devious mind. Someone had placed the bundles of mint directly by their register. How could I resist buying some? It was so fragrant and wonderful.

At first, I thought I might use it in a sauce for the lamb we had for Easter dinner, but that didn't happen. Thus comes the second inevitability concerning this bundle of mint: I had to make ice cream. Obviously.

As a trusted source of many frozen desserts, I turned to David Lebovitz's website for a recipe. Needless to say, he had one. I'm about half-way through steeping the leaves right now, but I can't imagine anything going awry. (P.S. Nothing did go awry--it's delicious, though yes, it is more herbal than the store bought mint.) So here it is.

Mint Chocolate Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop via David Lebovitz
makes 1 quart


1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, divided
pinch of salt
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks
5 ounces chocolate

1. In a pot, warm the milk, 1 cup of cream, sugar, salt and mint leaves over medium heat until steaming

2. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour

3. Strain the leaves out of the cream and milk, and press out as much liquid from the leaves as possible (try to avoid excessive bruising as cell damage increases the herbaceous flavor and doesn't extract extra menthol)

4. Return the infused liquid back into the pot and rewarm

5. While the infusion is warming, whisk the egg yolks together in a bowl

6. Add a bit of the warmed infusion into the yolks a drizzle at a time, continuing to whisk

7. Once the yolks are warmed, drizzle into the pot of infusion, stirring as you do

8. Stir this custard mixture until it becomes thick enough to coat the spatula, just before it gets steamy (steam point tends to be around 180°F, yolk set point is 177°F)

8b. Optional: Strain the custard base if you think you have any clumps

9. Add the rest of the cream and cool--you can do this over an ice bath--then refrigerate several hours or overnight

10. Churn according to the directions on your ice cream maker

11. While that's churning, melt the chocolate (in a double boiler or the microwave)

12. Toward the end of the churning or as you are putting the ice cream in a container, drizzle the chocolate over the ice cream and stir (or let be churned) a little at a time

13. Freeze until firm

08 March 2013

Blueberry Muffins

I love muffin recipes that use yogurt for the dairy component. There's a delicacy to the crumb that is delightful, a thickness to the batter making it easy to work with, an aroma when baking that I find particularly compelling. That said, I do wish this recipe was worked for twelve regular muffins instead of nine to ten, but I'm hesitant to mess with perfection. And, indeed, the original post from Smitten Kitchen is quite right in calling this recipe perfect.

Blueberry Muffins
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 9 to 10 standard muffins

5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup (6 ounces) plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t defrost)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F

2. Line or grease and flour ten wells in a standard muffin tin

3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy

4. Add egg to creamed butter and mix well

5. Add yogurt and zest to mixture and stir to incorporate

6. In separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt

7. Add the dries to the wets in two steps

8. Fold in the blueberries

9. Divide evenly into prepared wells of the muffin tin

10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the muffins comes out clean

11. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing

20 January 2013


We celebrated Burns' Night a bit early this year so that we could indoctrinate another person to the amusingness that is the holiday that honors Robert Burns. This year, though, we did not do our stand-by of Oat and Neep Stew.

Instead, we used some of the lamb offal we acquired through Garden Variety Cheese to make haggis. Well, haggish. That is to say, we did not have lungs or stomach, only liver and heart in sausage casing. Nonetheless, I'm told that it made a very decent approximation of haggis, and I can say myself that it was delicious. The lamb's liver was so light and tender, and of course the heart was delicious. We used caul fat instead of lard or suet, which I understand is an odd choice but it was a good one as it ended up with just the right fat content we thought.

Anyway, on to the recipe.

serves 4
adapted from Rampant Scotland

 1 lamb heart
1/2 of a lamb liver
1 cup fat (lard, suet or caul fat)
1 small onion
1/3 cup steel cut oats
1/3 cup stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1 tablespoon each fresh minced rosemary and thyme

some sausage casing

1. Put the heart and liver in a pot and cover with water. Boil until quite tender, at least half an hour.

2. Remove the heart and liver to a bowl, keeping the stock you've just made.

3. After the meat is cool enough to touch, mince (but do not puree!) the meat, onion, herbs and whichever fat you've chosen quite finely.

4. Add all the minced ingredients into a bowl with the oats, stock, salt and pepper; mix well.

5. Stuff the filling into the casing, leaving a fair bit of room for expansion and working out as much air as you can (otherwise the casing will blow apart in the midst of boiling...mine did...). A tip that I thought worked quite well for stuffing the casing without a machine to do it for you is to use a miso soup spoon to assist your endeavors.

6. Tie off the end of the casing.

7. Boil for at least an 1-1/2 hours, and up to 3 hours.

8. Serve with mashed potatoes, turnips and parsnips.

13 January 2013

Cocoa Wheat

Ever since I was a child I've like all the "Cream of" hot cereals--particularly rice and wheat. My mother bought the instant varieties that you could do up in the microwave, and I had huge bowls of it every morning. I didn't know though that I was being deprived of something even more amazing: CoCo Wheats. Well, I say more amazing, but really the store bought cereal CoCo Wheats don't hold a candle to the burning inferno that is the amazingness of homemade cocoa wheat. Seriously, it's fantastic. It might be that I have really delicious cocoa powder (definitely part of it), it might be that I don't care for the additives in the branded cereal, it might be a lot of things, but it certainly is heavenly.

Cocoa Wheat
serves 2

2 cups milk
2-1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup farina
(pinch of salt)

1. Whisk the cocoa powder into the milk

2. Heat the milk over medium flame until simmering (I like to stir fairly often so the milk doesn't scorch or bubble over)

3. Add the honey (and salt if using)

4. Add the farina slowly (so as not to clump)

5. Cook the farina (still stirring) until thickened to preference (just a few minutes)