Entries in Delicious Dish (67)

Thursday
Mar032011

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Muffins

Shouldn't breakfast be about wonder and joy and celebrating the new day ahead?  I think so, too.  Here's a recipe I came up with recently that befits the special occasion that is every morning.

These are really, really good--pleasantly chewy, not too sweet, and filling without being heavy.  Make them the night before the morning you want to serve them, as they are only mildly delicious when warm.  Once they reach room temperature, their subtle, rich flavor absolutely shines. 

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 cups packed brown sugar

4 eggs

2 cups sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups rolled oats (don't use quick oats)

1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips

2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional, for a scrumptious Mexican twist)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

Melt the butter and the brown sugar together in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until you have a uniform, lava-like goo.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, beat the eggs and the sour cream together in your mixer.  Add the butter-sugar mixture and the vanilla.  Mix well, then add the oats and mix again.  Scrape down the sides of your mixer bowl.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together, then add the flour mixture gradually to the mixer bowl.  Mix on low until the batter is uniform.  Add the chocolate chips and the optional cinnamon, and stir until fully incorporated.

Scoop the batter into paper-lined muffin tins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top.  Makes 24-30 muffins.

(This recipe also works beautifully with frozen blueberries substituted for the chocolate chips, but my kids aren't sure why you would ever want to do that.)

Monday
Sep272010

Look, Ma, No Knead!

When it comes to baking, I = LAZY.  I've relied on my Zojirushi breadmaker for almost a decade to provide my family with freshly baked bread.  When I hear people rhapsodizing about the joys of the long knead, I think, Dude, that's why I work out.

So you would assume that I would have jumped on the Jim Lahey/Mark Bittman No Knead Bread craze when it hit Manhattan almost four years ago.  There are tales told of the entire City being hit by a run on instant yeast and Le Creuset Dutch ovens.  Rose Levy Beranbaum, my personal Obi-Wan Kenobi of baking, went ga-ga as she whipped up her own modifications.  The foodie portion of the blogosphere still reels from the discussions and debates that followed Bittman's column.

But if you assumed, you would be wrong.  The bread was just too popular; I couldn't bring myself to join in.  Kind of how I will only reluctantly read an Oprah book once it's an Oprah book, and how I have taken a solemn vow never to see James Cameron's Titanic.

But then, my buddy Glen Nelson tried making the bread and raved.  Glen and his wife Marcia venerate food to the level that Patrick and I do, so I was impressed.  But still, I resisted.  

The camel-back-breaking straw came a few weeks ago.  I checked in on my idol and first blogcrush, Jane Brocket, to see what fabulous creativity she was up to.  She had just announced her lateness to the No Knead party, with fantastic results.  That did it.  I gave in.

I'm glad I waited, though; since Bittman made Jim Lahey's genius famous, Teh Webs have come up with all manner of variations and adaptations, including one using all whole wheat flour that still has just four ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast.  Bring it, sister; I've got literally two tons of wheat in my basement.

I realized as I read the recipe that the whole-wheat version, in addition to being extraordinarily economical for someone in my position, also is very Weston Price-friendly.  The people at Dr. Price's foundation contend that the phytic acid in wheat and other grains--the substance that preserves grain for centuries under the right conditions--is hard on the stomach.  Getting rid of it by soaking the grains for an extended length of time will get rid of the phytic acid and also make the grains' nutrients much more bio-available.  This has been a problem at our house, however; I'm the only die-hard sourdough fan here.  But perhaps the No Knead bread would not offend everyone else's sensibilities.  I had to find out.

So last week, I got out my wheat grinder and made me some flour, then dusted off this great ceramic baking pot we got as a gift years ago.  It usually languishes in the top cupboard until I need it to hold ten pounds' worth of mashed potatoes, but no more.  Oiled and preheated, it took the load of really ugly, slack, all-wheat dough I put in it, and 45 minutes later, produced a glorious loaf of artisan bread.

We let the loaf cool, then sliced and tasted it.  Delicious.  It could easily sit on the table at Picholine or Bar Boulud as a rustic accompaniment to cheese (or simply play host to a slathering of cultured butter).  I immediately stirred up another batch, which was just as good when when it was ready the next day.  The family usually endures wheat bread, but now they're eagerly asking for it.

And yesterday I decided to give the kids a treat.  They love those $4.99 Ecce Panis boules I splurge on from time to time; I wondered whether the white No Knead bread would compare favorably.  

Yeah: pretty much leaves it in the dust.  Mouth-watering, crispy crust; complex (but not sourdoughy) flavor; delectably stretchy innards that beg for your best-quality butter. 

I cannot stress to you how easy this is, but maybe this link will convince you.  Folks, I want to be cautious about a possible break-up after so many years together, but I may well be seeking another home for the Zojirushi sometime soon.  I can't see why I would ever want any other kind of bread than Jim Lahey's miracle loaf.

Monday
Apr192010

Cool on a Stick

Yesterday morning, Cold Spring got even more amazing when my friend Lynn Miller and her lovely husband Greg opened The Pop Shop on Main Street.  Anne and I walked down there this morning to wish them well and partake of their fantastic foodstuffs. 

Lynn and Greg are the creators of Go-Go Pops, the most delicious frozen fruit pop you can possibly imagine.  The pops are all natural and handmade right here in Cold Spring.  Lynn and Greg use local fruit when possible and use environmentally sound practices at every level of their production and packaging processes.  But all that virtue would be for naught if the pops weren't scrumptious.  Here are some of their mouthwatering flavors:

Juicy Pops
Grape-Kiwi
Watermelon
Pineapple-Orange
Cucumber-Chili
Banana-Strawberry
Honeydew-Lemongrass
Lime Mojito
Lemon-Rosemary
Orange-Tamarind
Cantaloupe-Ginger
Raspberry

Creamy Pops
Guava
Chocolate-Ancho
Orange Cream
Banana Cream
Wild Blueberry-Lemon (my favorite)
Cherry Chunk
Cappuccino
Peaches & Cream
Banana Pudding
Strawberry

Power Pops (made with Go-Go Boosters like protein, ginseng, and bee pollen)
Flower Power
Banana-Chocolate
Blueberry Buttermilk
Pineapple-Orange
Chocolate Cherry
Banana-Strawberry

I first tasted a Go-Go Pop at Cold Spring's Farmers Market a couple of years ago.  Since then, it's a rare week that goes by without our indulging in a treat from the Millers' stand.  Besides the Pops, Lynn makes terrific baked goods like Cheddar-Dill Scones, Raspberry-Cream Cheese Breakfast Pastries, and (my favorite) Lemon-Iced Gingerbread Cupcakes.  They also specialize in all kinds of organic, fair-trade coffee. 

And now I don't have to wait for Saturdays for a Go-Go fix!  Come on over, friends, and I'll treat you to the best frozen treat you've ever put in your mouth.

Tuesday
Feb092010

Cherry Almond Ginger Chews

On the way home from a family day trip to Manhattan recently, I stopped by the Gourmet Garage for some car treats.  In the bakery area, the kids and I saw something intriguing: a package of Chewy Cherry Almond Ginger Cookies.  They demanded to be bought; I agreed at once.

They were delicious, and I decided that I must reverse engineer them as soon as possible.  This has proved to be one of my most challenging duplication projects, but after three batches, I have come off conqueror.  My sacrifice is your gain; I graciously accept your thanks in advance.

The key ingredient here is a homemade ginger syrup, though you can substitute molasses if you don't have the time or the inclination.

Cherry Almond Ginger Chews

2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
6 oz. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup ginger syrup* OR molasses
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line cookie sheet with silpat sheet or baking parchment. 

Mix the flour, salt, soda, and spices together in a bowl and set aside.  Beat the butter and the sugars in mixer on high speed for 3 minutes.  Add the egg yolk and the vanilla and beat to combine for about half a minute.  Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and add the syrup (or molasses) and beat until combined.  Scrape down sides again.  Add the flour mixture and mix on lowest speed only until well mixed; add the cherries and the nuts and mix for just a few seconds more--do not overmix.  The dough should be very soft.  If that freaks you out, you can add another couple of tablespoons of flour, but you shouldn't need to do that.

Put rounded tablespoonfuls of dough about two inches apart on the cookie sheet.  Bake for 11 minutes.  The cookies will not look done; that's okay.  Let them cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer them to a rack to finish cooling.  Sample one and marvel at the warm, gingery goodness.  Makes about two dozen.

*Ginger Syrup

A piece of ginger root about as big as your hand (fingers included)
2 cups white sugar
2 cups water

Slice the ginger into very thin slices (most easily done in a food processor).  Put it in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan with the sugar and the water.  Boil the mixture for at least a half hour, until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.  Strain the syrup (save the candied ginger in a Mason jar in the refrigerator for making tummy-soothing ginger tea).  Let syrup cool to at least room temperature before using.  Store in a Mason jar in the fridge; keeps indefinitely.  Makes about two cups--enough for four batches of cookies!

As always with my recipes, if you try this, let me know how it works out for you.

Monday
Jan252010

To Market, To Market

Photos by Steve Bates

A few weeks ago on Facebook, I posted about how glad I was that our local farmers market is now a year-round event.  Someone responded, "What do they sell right now, ice cubes?"

Funny, but no.  The Cold Spring Farmers Market features an amazing variety of foods that are all locally grown and/or produced.  Visiting it has become an essential part of my weekly homemaking routine.

Madura Farm offers several varieties of gourmet mushrooms; all kinds of root vegetables; and salad greens and cherry tomatoes from their greenhouses. 

Breezy Hill Orchard has apples (this year's apples kept in special cold storage until market day); apple cider; fresh turnovers and cookies; and brown eggs from happy, free-running hens. 

My friend Lynn Miller sells Go-Go Pops, her delicious gourmet popsicles; fair-trade coffee; and scrumptious weekly specials like asparagus quiche and gingerbread-lemon cupcakes. 

If I'm not in my home-baking groove, I can get lovely artisan breads at Bread Alone.  We love to try new varieties of cheese from Sprout Creek DairyThree Chicks Sugar Shack sells maple syrup from maple trees right here in my home county.  I visit White Oak Apiary's stand whenever I run low on raw honey.  Walnut Groves Farm can supply me with grass-fed beef and pastured pork and chickens.  If I didn't already have a source for local, hormone-free milk, I could get it from either Ronnybrook or Hudson Milk

There are several other vendors at the market.  Some are there every week, while others participate once or twice a month.  On any given Saturday, you can find everything from wine to salad dressing and from cheddar-dill scones to fresh spring rolls made with ground lamb and mushrooms.  As Patrick might say, "It's a veritable smorgasbord."

I believe it's important to eat locally-produced food whenever possible.   It's healthier for us, for the economy, and for the earth.  And, thanks to the Cold Spring Farmers Market, eating local food is convenient, easy, and delicious.  I truly feel blessed that there is such affordable abundance available to me every Saturday morning.