Entries in Delicious Dish (67)


Slow Cooker Breakfast Cobbler

Chopped nectarines and plums form the base of my latest cobbler. I don't know why this photo loaded sideways, and I can't seem to fix it.

Bonne rentrée! Happy Back to School!

School day mornings are pretty busy, so I make breakfast the night before. This is one of our favorites. These days, with only four kids at home, I serve half of it one day and put the rest in a covered stoneware dish in the fridge. The next morning, I gently warm up the second half in the oven before serving.

This recipe is filling, but not terribly sweet (making it ideal for breakfast, in my opinion). I'm sure you could add more sugar, if you wanted. But try it this way first.

My slow cooker is a 6-quart Cuisinart with a "keep warm" feature--nice, but not necessary for this recipe.

Slow Cooker Breakfast Cobbler

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

4 cups fruit, fresh or frozen*

1/3 cup white sugar

Another 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup heavy cream (best), sour cream, or buttermilk

2 eggs

Melt the first stick of butter directly in the slow cooker; mine has a "Sauté" feature that I turn on briefly. Pour the fruit in; there should be enough to cover the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle the white sugar over and stir to combine. 

Melt the second stick of butter in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the cream and eggs to the melted butter and stir well. Pour the butter/cream/egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir only until combined. (If you overstir, your cobbler will be tough.) The batter will be sticky and very thick.

Spoon batter over the fruit to cover it. Put the lid on the cooker and set it for six hours. Go to sleep and have yummy dreams.

The next morning, serve warm, with some cream on top, if desired. Serves eight.

* I buy frozen fruit in bulk from Bithell Farms. (They are not paying me to say so.) Yesterday, I had some stone fruit that was getting too ripe, so I used what I had. Use any fruit or combination you like; we love sour cherries and blueberries and/or chopped apricots, nectarines plums, peaches, and apples. 


Nutella Hamantaschen

We studied the Book of Esther in seminary this morning. As part of our discussion, I explained the festival of Purim and how it's celebrated--which, of course, meant I had to make hamantaschen last night as a treat for today's class. 

Haman is the villain of Purim, and hamantaschen, which is Yiddish for "Haman's pouches/pockets" represent the pouches of money the wicked man offered in exchange for destroying the Jews. (Spoiler alert: Queen Esther foils Haman's evil plan.)

In traditional recipes, the three-cornered cookies are filled with poppy seeds, a date-nut mixture, or jam. Personally, I like all of those options, but I wanted my hamentaschen to appeal to teen palates (and to my husband's), which is where the inspiration to fill them with Nutella came in. And, I have to say, they're pretty amazing. I checked the internet after I baked these, and apparently I'm not the first to think of this, but I still feel like a genius.

2 sticks unsalted butter, ideally at 60 degrees F

1 cup sugar

4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, plus 1 more for egg wash

About 3/4 cup Nutella*

Cream the butter and sugar together for 5 minutes, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides a couple of times. (For reasons why this step is essential to your success--and why you want the butter at 60 degrees--read this excellent post.) In the meantime, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together and set them aside.

Add the vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each. Stir in the flour mixture with the mixer at lowest speed, and mix only until the dough is combined. (Overmix it, and the cookies will be tough.) Divide the dough into two balls, flatten them into discs about an inch thick, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for two hours. This allows the butter and flour to integrate fully, making a much tastier cookie. 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the third egg in a small bowl with a fork until it's a nice, uniform yellow. This is your egg wash. Roll out one disc of dough on a very lightly floured surface until it's about a quarter of an inch thick. With a three-inch round cookie cutter (or a glass, which is what I used), cut as many circles as you can as efficiently space-wise as you can. A dough scraper or a sharp spatula can help you move them around without destroying their shape. 

Using a pastry brush, brush one circle lightly with egg wash, then drop about a teaspoon or slightly more of Nutella onto the cookie's center (I use two eating teaspoons, scooping with one and scraping the Nutella off the spoon and onto the cookie with the other. This avoids the finger licking conundrum.)

Fold up three sides of the cookie and pinch the corners together. Crucial step: brush the outside corners thoroughly with egg wash. This will glue them and prevent them from collapsing in the oven. The pinches will not hold on their own, and then you'll have hamanbrochen (Haman disasters). Ba-dump-bump: I'm here all week, folks.  

Place the filled hamantasch (singular; "hamantaschen" is plural) on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. This also is essential; otherwise, the egg wash will glue the cookie to the pan (or parchment paper). Repeat this process for each cookie, then take the other disc out of the fridge and start all over again.

(You'll see that my batch in the photo above aren't super uniform. That's because it was literally nearly 90 degrees in my kitchen last night, because I refuse to turn on the air conditioner in February. I was working as fast as I could, but the dough still warmed up really quickly. But I tell myself that they look rustic and artisanal that way. )

Bake for about 15 minutes, until the bottom edges and corners of the cookies are turning golden brown. Let cool completely on cookie sheets, then gently loosen each cookie with a dough scraper or sharp spatula and remove to a plate. 

(You can re-roll the dough scraps and make some plain sugar cookies, but the re-worked scraps will be tougher and not really fit for company. I'd roll this dough out, cut it in pieces, bake them plain, and maybe put some Nutella on them after they are baked and cool.)

Makes about two dozen, not counting the dough scraps. These are super delicious: the not-too-sweet dough is the perfect foil for the creamy, rich Nutella. I didn't feel bad at all serving them to my students at 6:45 a.m.

*You can use jam instead if you've got a nut allergy issue or for some insane reason don't like the celestial taste of chocolate and hazelnuts together. If you do, use a really high quality, not-too-sweet variety (preferably homemade), and use a little less than a teaspoon for each cookie. 


Pears and Passion Fruit

Lately, we've been experiencing Preserving the Harvest, Part II at our house.

(The first portion was in July, when I made pints and pints of jam: cherry, cherry-plum, nectarine-lime, peach butter, peach-apricot-nectarine, strawberry-apricot-nectarine-vanilla, plumcot, plum-nectarine, and--wait for it--cantaloupe-vanilla. And other kinds. I know I'm forgetting some. Most of these recipes came from the awesome Food in Jars website or cookbook.)

Around that time. I ordered a case of pears through our congregation's preparedness committee. And about two weeks ago, they arrived straight from a church farm in Oregon. Forty pounds. Ninety Bartlett pears. Once they ripened just a few days ago, I got going. Here's what I made, with links to recipes:

Chocolate-Pear Jam (!!!!!!)

Pear-Vanilla Jam

Pear-Cardamom Jam

Ginger-Pear Jam (In the Food in Jars cookbook)

Cranberry-Pear Jam

Two Pear Dutch Babies (I doubled the recipe both times.)

Pear Crisp (I used my own Vermont Apple Crisp recipe.)

Pear Sauce (This I just made up. The recipe will be in my new cookbook.)

Pear Sauce Cake with Penuche Frosting (I used my Applesauce Cake recipe.)

Three batches of Pear Pie Filling--in the freezer

Spiced Pear Muffins

And a partridge in a pear tree! Just kidding. But people had fresh pears in lunches and for snacks for several days. 

What delicious fun! I loved how the quickly ripening mound of produce forced me to get creative in a hurry. I also loved how the smell of cooking pears took me straight back to my beloved Grandma Ybright's summer kitchen. I have such fond memories of helping her can (in cans!) every year. Special thanks to my sweet Jenna for giving me the Food in Jars cookbook and for finding many of these other treasures. 

On to my next report. Two weeks ago, a darling neighbor gave me a big bag of ripe passion fruit from her garden. This I now know: I must plant at least one passion fruit vine of my own as soon as possible. You know how simply smelling chocolate makes you smile? Passion fruit is the same for me. Just walking by my fruit bowl, with that gorgeous aroma floating past my nose, made me happy. But consuming them made me even happier.

You can eat passion fruit raw--just cut it in half along the equator of the fruit and scoop out the jellied insides with a spoon. (Crunch the seeds or swallow them.) But they're even more luscious when you cook with it. 

First, I adapted a Nigella Lawson recipe and made some passion fruit curd. It's like lemon curd--creamy, sweet-tart, and addictive--but with the knock-me-down-awesome flavor of passion fruit. 

For this recipe, you want about a dozen passion fruit--the more purple and slightly wrinkly, the better. So that you don't lose any of the scrumptious insides, stab one at the equator with a sharp paring knife, then dig your thumbs in and rip the fruit apart over a bowl, sort of like cracking an egg. Then scoop out the rest of the insides with a spoon. Inhale the loveliness of each empty half before you toss it in the trash. Pour all the fruit pulp into a seive over a big measuring cup. 

Whisk two eggs and two egg yolks together, then whisk in 2/3 cup of superfine sugar and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Melt a stick of butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the egg-sugar mixture and and the strained passion fruit juice. (Don't throw away the pulp and seeds!) Cook over low heat until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat and whisk the pulp and seeds in. Once the mixture is cooled, you can store it in a couple of mason jars. Makes about 1-1/2 pints. 

Here's what you do with the curd: spread it on toast. Stir a generous amount into plain yogurt (my favorite). Use it to fill a white or angel food cake. No matter how you eat it, you will feel like royalty. Its deliciousness is indescribable. 

Another delicious option is to make passion fruit muffins. For these wonders, I used my Mother of Invention recipe. For Substance A, I put a cup of coconut flakes and a cup of passion fruit juice/pulp in the blender and whirled it up. SO GOOD. 

What have you made lately?


How to Write a Cookbook

Comfortably Yum fans will be happy to learn that I'm working on a new cookbook! I've got 125 drafted recipes that I'm testing and writing up. Here's my process:

1) Write down ideas. Maybe you tasted something great in a restaurant or bakery that you want to reverse engineer. Maybe you've had a brainflash on how to improve a traditional dish. Maybe you got desperate one night when the fridge was pretty bare, and you created something brand new and fabulous. Maybe a friend shared a recipe with you, and you've customized it to your family's tastes. I've done all of the above and more in choosing my recipes. Most cookbooks have at least 75 recipes in them, and many have far more than that. 

2) Come up with a theme. Look at your list carefully and analyze it. Group the recipes into categories. Is it unbalanced? Is it all one kind of food? What do your recipes have in common? What are the outliers? Once you've seen patterns and recurrences in your list, you can figure out whether you're going to have an eclectic collection or a single-food book--and whether you need to trim or expand your list. Comfortably Yum is eclectic; my dear friend Annette Lyon's peerless Chocolate Never Faileth focuses on just one wonderful thing. 

3) Test, test, test. Cook up your recipe as drafted and take notes on what needs improving. Try it again, and again--as many times as needed until it's perfect. 

4) Write the full text of the recipes. I'll tell you a secret: recipes themselves can't be copyrighted. But the way they're written can be copyrighted. I like to have a chatty, quirky, (hopefully) funny voice when I write recipes. Other cookbook authors are more formal or are able to write mouthwatering descriptions to tempt the reader to try their recipes. Let your personality shine.

5) Ask others to test your recipes. This is the equivalent of asking for beta readers for a novel. Are your directions clear? Are your measurements accurate? Feedback from other cooks is essential.

6) Find a way to publish. I used CreateSpace and have been very happy with it. My genius friends Jana and Deb came up with the title for my first cookbook, and my very talented brother-in-law Gary designed its cover. Having pros help you with design is key to your cookbook's appeal. 

7) Spread the word. I'll confess: I have done very little marketing for Comfortably Yum, yet it continues to sell month after month. I put that down to word of mouth. But at the beginning, print up some postcards and give them away. That'll cost you $20. Ask friends to write reviews. Get the excellent book Make a Killing on Kindle and follow its advice (most of which applies to self-published paper books, too). Trade bloggers a copy for a review. If your recipes are good, your book will sell. 

What about you? Have you ever dreamed of writing a cookbook?


Glazed Pumpkin Scones

I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Scones on this fun blog and realized that it was somewhat similar to my own scone recipe. I couldn't resist the chance to monkey around and come up with something new and delicious. 

Glazed Pumpkin Scones

2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground, if possible)
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 chunks
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Put all the dry ingredients in your food processor and whirl them around for a few seconds. Add the chunks o' butter and process until the mixture is mealy. Add the pumpkin and the cream and process again until the dough starts to hold together. If it's really not coming together after several pulses, add a couple of tablespoons more cream.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and pat it into a rectangular shape. Cut it into 12 uniform pieces and place them on a baking sheet, preferably lined with a Silpat sheet. I like rectangles; my darling Jenna can't figure out my aversion to triangles, but I did try it once, as you can see in the photo above. Bake the scones for 14 minutes.

While they're baking, mix up the glaze. Add the cream slowly to the powdered sugar so that it's just spreadable. 

Let the scones cool for about 5 minutes before spreading the glaze on them, then let them sit 5 minutes more before devouring. 

As always, if you try them, let me know what you think!