Boston Brown Bread & Berries

Ingredients

1- 16 oz. can B&M Brown Bread

1-8oz. package cream cheese, softened

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons milk, or heavy cream

8 nice strawberries

Directions

1. Remove the bread from the can and slice it into 8 evenly cut pieces.

2. Place the cream cheese, sugar, and milk in a bowl.  Beat the mixture until it is smooth, adding more milk  if  necessary.  Spread cream cheese mixture on each slice of brown bread.

3. Slice each strawberry about 4 to 5 times, leaving the berry connected at the top and leaving the green top intact.  Fan out the strawberry and place it gently on top of the cream cheese layer.

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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

Chocolate-Chip-Zucchini-Cake-cake-on-plate

Recipe adapted from The Complete Book of Baking by Pillsbury

published by The Penguin Group, New York,NY

Elizabeth’s Chocolate Glaze by Elizabeth Levesque

Four days ago I bought these lovely zucchini with the intention of baking zucchini bread, and then I forgot all about them.  Normally I would have left the peels on, but they are not as lovely now, and that is why I peeled them before cutting and grating them for the cake.  The food processor made quick work of these pieces of zucchini; it took me less than 2 minutes to grate about 8 zucchini.  Then I “sweated” them for about 40 minutes.

According to Baking Illustrated , you are supposed to sweat the zucchini before using it in zucchini bread, and so I thought it would be best to do the same when using them in a cake recipe.  If you are using a food processor to grate your zucchini, add the 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar right down the chute .  If you are using a box grater, just mix in the sugar with the grated zucchini.  Place a fine sieve or colander over a bowl, and allow the grated zucchini to drain for at least 30 minutes.  You will be amazed at how much liquid is sweated out (at the end I pressed the zucchini to get even more liquid out).  Half of the zucchini were used in this cake and I froze the other half to use in a cake or loaf of bread later.  Enjoy!

Chocolate-Chip-Zucchini-Cake-zucchini

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts

2 teaspoons granulated sugar- for “sweating” the zucchini

Chocolate-Chip-Zucchini-Cake-chopped-zucchini-250x250

Directions

1. Grate and sweat the zucchini.

Chocolate-Chip-Zucchini-Cake-shredded-zucchini

2. Heat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour a 13×9 inch pan.

3. In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter, oil, vanilla and eggs; beat well.

4. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and buttermilk; blend well.

Chocolate-Chip-Zucchini-Cake-batter

5. Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips and nuts.  Spread in the greased and floured pan.

6. Bake at 350 ° F. for 35- 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

7. This can be served unfrosted ( and it really is good without frosting), or with just a glaze ( I chose to glaze it- the recipe follows).  You can also use a chocolate frosting to bring out more of the chocolate flavor.

Chocolate-Chip-Zucchini-Cake-cake-on-plate

Elizabeth’s Dark Chocolate Glaze

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 dark unsweetened cocoa

1 tsp vanilla

about 4-5 Tablespoons water

1. Mix together powdered sugar, cocoa,vanilla and enough water to make your glaze pourable, but yet still somewhat thick.

2. Pour glaze over cooled cake and quickly spread it evenly (a small off-set spatula works great for this).  Allow glaze to set before cutting the cake.

P.S… I’m not the only one who cooks in this house, this is a sample of Mark’s handiwork.

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Chocolate-Chip-Zucchini-Cake-bbq-open

Cream Puffs

Cream-Puffs-3-puffs

recipe courtesy of Epicurious

Cream Puffs are a lot easier to make than most people think, and you can fill them with all sorts of yummy stuff; whipped cream, pastry cream, pudding, custard, ice cream, cheese, and even chicken or tuna salad.

The first time I made choux pastry, I was a little apprehensive.  I was afraid that the process would be too complicated and that they would come out looking like something that no one wanted to eat.  Surprise, surprise…yes, they are a tad bit time-consuming (and messy), but they are easy to make, and it’s really cool to see how much they puff up when they bake.  I will suggest that you read through this recipe and get a pretty good idea of the process before you start (I would print out the recipe and keep it next to me).  This recipe makes lots of cream puffs, but you can freeze the extra puffs once you have piped them on the baking sheet, and then bake them at a later time.

No longer will you walk past the pastry case and drool when you see the beautiful delicacies on display.  Once you get the hang of making choux pastry, you’ll be pumping out not only Cream Puffs, but also Profiteroles (cream puffs filled with ice cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce), Gougeres ( cheese and herb cream puffs), Eclairs (elongated cream puffs filled with whipped cream or pastry cream and topped with a chocolate glaze) and perhaps even a big, beautiful Croquembouque (cream puffs filled with pastry cream, topped with caramel, and stacked in the shape of a tree, then surrounded with spun sugar).  Enjoy!

Ingredients

Choux Pastry

1 cup water

5 1/3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4-5 large eggs

 

Fillings  (a few suggestions)

Whipped cream

Pudding

Pastry Cream

Ice Cream

Custard

Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad, Shrimp Salad

 

Toppings  (a few suggestions)

Various Ice Cream Sauces

Chocolate Ganache

Powdered Sugar

 

Cream-Puffs-heart-shaped-puff

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Line one baking sheet with a Silpat, and the second one with parchment paper.  If you don’t have a Silpat, just use parchment paper on both baking sheets.  Set up a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  If using a hand mixer, set it up and have a large heat-proof bowl next to it.

Cream-Puffs-flour-added

3. Sift flour and set aside.  Combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt in a saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium to high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour, all at once.  Stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean, with no dough sticking to it.  The dough should be glossy and smooth, but still damp.

Cream-Puffs-cooked-dough

4. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, to allow the moisture to evaporate.  Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent the dough from browning.  A thin coating will form on the bottom and sides of the pan.  When enough moisture has evaporated, steam will rise from the dough and you will smell the nutty aroma of cooked flour.  At first you will smell the butter-yes, stick your nose down there and smell it-then the smell will change once the flour has been cooked.

5. Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and mix for a few seconds to release some of the heat.  Check to see if the dough is ready by placing your finger in it.  You should be able to touch down in the dough without getting burned.  On medium speed, add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well and completely incorporating each egg before adding the next one.

Cream-Puffs-5th-egg

6. Turn off the mixer and lift some of the dough on a rubber spatula.  Turn the spatula to let the dough run off, it should fall off the spatula very slowly.  If it doesn’t move at all or is very dry and falls off in one clump, beat in the 5th egg.

Cream-Puffs-pastry-bag

7. Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (you all see my pastry bag; it is a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with the corner cut off and a large tip and coupler set attached).  If you don’t have a pastry bag or tips, use a Ziploc bag with a small piece snipped off of the corner.

Cream-Puffs-raw-puffs

Cream-Puffs-smooth-puffs

8. Pipe the dough into a V-shape if you would like heart-shaped cream puffs, a rectangle for eclairs, and a round disc for regular cream puffs.  This dough is supposed to make about 4 dozen cream puffs, if you keep the size to about 1 1/2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick when you pipe them.  Mine were bigger so I added 5 minutes to the baking time.  Space them a couple of inches apart so that they have room to expand while baking.  Using your fingertips dipped in water, you can smooth the surface of your piped cream puffs should they have lines.

 

Cream-Puffs-puffs-for-freezer

If you do not wish to bake them all now, just pipe them onto the baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper, smooth them with wet fingers, and then place them in the freezer.  Once they are frozen, you can place them in a freezer storage bag until you are ready to bake them.   To bake the frozen cream puffs, place the frozen puffs on a silpat and bake as directed below.  You will probably need to add a few minutes to the baking time at the end.

Cream-Puffs-baked-puffs

9. Bake the puffs for 10 minutes, turn the baking sheet around, turn the oven down to 350 degrees, and bake for 15 more minutes.  Remove one puff and cut it open with a very sharp knife; it should be hollow inside and not gooey or eggy.  If it is still moist, return it to the oven and check it in 5 minutes.  Cool the puffs completely on the baking sheet.  Store in an airtight container until serving time.

Cream-Puffs-heart-shaped-puff

10. When ready to serve, slice the puff in half with a very sharp knife.  Fill as desired, place the top back on the puff and top it as desired.

 

Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

Raspberry-Frozen-Yogurt-berries-in-yogurt

Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Levesque

It is nearly the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and that always reminds me of the time we lived in Alaska. On 21 Jun, it will be daylight here until after 9 p.m.  In Alaska they will probably have about 2 hours of darkness total on that day, and I’m talking dark like dusk.  We arrived in Anchorage late in the summer of 2004 and thought it was the coolest thing ever to be able to walk the dogs at 2 a.m., and have to wear sunglasses (it was like the Vegas strip, but family style).  We couldn’t make ourselves go to sleep at first, it was just too fascinating to be up and doing stuff outside that we wouldn’t normally be able to do.

Mark went on a fishing trip one year during the solstice; he had to throw on the sunglasses at 1 a.m. , by 3:30 a.m. it was gray outside and they sat around the campfire until 5 a.m. when he and his buddies all started fishing again in full daylight.  All this sunlight makes for a short, but rapid growing season.  The Saturday Market, which was held in downtown Anchorage, was my favorite place to buy fruits and veggies right from the farmers.

Raspberry-Frozen-Yogurt-raspberries-on-cookie-sheet

One such trip to the Saturday Market I bought the last 4 crates of raspberries from a farmer.  By the time it was all said and done, we ended up with about 3 crates of good berries, and by crates I mean about 6 pints per crate.  Quite a lot of the berries were quick frozen and stored for later use ( a wedding cake), and then I discovered plain yogurt and Splenda.  I fiddled around with a combination of different fruits (strawberries, bananas, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, and raspberries) and amounts of Splenda until I came up with this recipe.

Raspberry-Frozen-Yogurt-yogurt-in-bowl

If you have an ice cream maker, you can pour the mixture in it and the machine will make the frozen yogurt while you are enjoying dinner.  However, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, just mix up the recipe and put it in the freezer overnight.  It won’t be as creamy, but it will taste just as good.  Also, don’t sweat it if you play around too long and can’t find fresh raspberries, frozen fruit works just as well.  Hmmm…I seem to be craving a big piece of grilled salmon right about now.  Enjoy!

 

Raspberry-Frozen-Yogurt-raspberries-in-strainer

Ingredients

32 oz. container plain yogurt (not vanilla flavored)

fruit (lots of choices) I used 3 cups of raspberries

Granular Splenda (my favorite is the Nectress, naturally flavored with monk fruit)

fresh-squeezed lemon juice, about 2 Tablespoons

 

Directions

Raspberry-Frozen-Yogurt-raspberries-on-pedestal-2

1. Prepare the fruit.  Chop your fruit into chunks (if you are using an ice cream maker, the constant movement of the mixture will crush small pieces like blueberries and raspberries for you).  Use an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor to puree the fruit, you can leave it a little chunky if you want your frozen yogurt to have more texture.

Raspberry-Frozen-Yogurt-yogurt

2. In a bowl, add the plain yogurt, lemon juice and Splenda.  This is a personal taste kind of situation, however be aware that it should taste sweeter than you would normally like it because the Splenda loses some of it’s sweetness when you freeze it.  The fruit you choose will also determine how much Splenda you put in the recipe.  For instance, I used a little over 2 cups of granular Splenda making this frozen yogurt.

Raspberry-Frozen-Yogurt-berries-in-yogurt-2

3. Add the blended fruit to the yogurt mixture, stir it in well and re-taste.  Add any additional Splenda.

Raspberry-Frozen-Yogurt-freezer-containers

4. At this point you can pour about half of this mixture into your ice cream maker and in 20-30 minutes you will be eating soft-serve frozen yogurt. Or, at this point you can pour the mixture into freezer containers and freeze for several hours (for soft-serve) or overnight for really frozen yogurt.

Raspberry-Frozen-Yogurt-dessert

Blueberry Sorbet

Blueberry-Sorbet-sorbet-in-dish

recipe courtesy Martha Stewart Living Magazine, July/August 2000 issue

It’s blueberry time!  This is a nice light tasting sorbet, perfect for a hot summer day.  I used fresh blueberries, but you can probably use frozen (thawed) blueberries, too. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/3 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

4 cups blueberries

1/2 lemon, juiced

Blueberry-Sorbet-blueberries

Directions

1. In a saucepan, combine the water and sugar.  Over a medium heat stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before using.

Blueberry-Sorbet-pureed-berries

Blueberry-Sorbet-strained-berries

2. Using a food processor, puree the blueberries.  Pour the pureed blueberries through a fine mesh sieve to remove the skins.

Blueberry-Sorbet-frozen-in-ice-cream-maker

3. To the sugar syrup, add the lemon juice and strained blueberry juice.  Stir to combine and pour into ice cream maker.  After the mixture is frozen, transfer to container and freeze overnight.

Super Berry Crisp

Super-Berry-Crisp-my-bowl-of-crisp

Recipe courtesy of 101 Farmhouse Favorites

by Gooseberry Patch 

If you are looking for a quick and easy dessert that not only tastes great, but is also pretty…this is it! I usually think of a fruit crisp as a Fall dessert, because I almost always make them with apples.  However, this recipe is a nice twist on that classic.  The fresh blueberries in this recipe balance out the cherry pie filling and keep this crisp from being overly sweet.  There is a nice tart after-bite, perhaps it would be a little less tart with riper berries, but I really liked that about it.  Enjoy!

Super-Berry-Crisp-blueberries

Ingredients

21 ounce can cherry pie filling
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup long-cooking oats, uncooked
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional Garnish : Whipped cream (Cool whip or ice cream would be good, too)

 

Directions

Super-Berry-Crisp-berries

1. Pour cherry pie filling into an ungreased 9-inch pie pan; fold in blueberries.

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-topping-mixture

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add remaining ingredients, except garnish, to melted butter, stirring to coat well.

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-before-baking

3. Spread oat mixture over fruit in pie pan.

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-my-bowl-of-crisp

4. Bake at 350°F. for 35 minutes, or until topping is crisp and golden.  Optional: Garnish individual servings with whipped cream.

 

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-topping-ingredients

Chocolate Spice Sorbet with Chocolate Sauce

Chocolate-Spice-Sorbet-and-Chocolate-Sauce-sorbet-and-sauce2

 

Recipes courtesy of Crazy About Chocolate by Krystina Castella

Chocolate Spice Sorbet is a light and refreshing alternative to ice cream.  If you do not like cardamom ( or do not want to spend a lot of money on a spice that you will never use again), Krystina Castella recommends some flavor variations; you can replace the cinnamon and cardamom with mint, ginger, lavender, raspberry, or orange.  Sorbet does not freeze as hard as ice cream, so plan on placing the sorbet in the freezer overnight before serving.

The Chocolate Sauce is rich, velvety, and full of fat.  It is a great contrast to the sorbet, and would be delicious served with cakes or breads (gingerbread or banana bread would be awesome), or bottled and given as a gift with an ice cream scoop.  I dipped walnuts in the sauce and drizzled some sauce on the sorbet.  This book would also be a terrific gift for the chocolate lover on your list. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Spice-Sorbet-and-Chocolate-Sauce-chopped-chocolate

Chocolate Spice Sorbet Ingredients
3 cups water
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70 % cacao), finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Chocolate Sauce Ingredients
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

 

Chocolate Spice Sorbet Directions

Chocolate-Spice-Sorbet-and-Chocolate-Sauce-start-the-syrup

1. Combine the water, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and sugar in a large saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat for 20 minutes, until the mixture has reduced to about 2 1/4 cups ( the syrup will become thicker and will boil slightly, but don’t allow it to become a full rolling boil).  Remove the syrup from the heat and allow it to cool. Remove the cinnamon stick and the vanilla bean.

 

Chocolate-Spice-Sorbet-and-Chocolate-Sauce-add-the-cocoa

2. Return the pan to the stove top and add the cocoa powder and salt.  Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally.  Once it starts boiling, whisk constantly for an additional 30 seconds.

 

Chocolate-Spice-Sorbet-and-Chocolate-Sauce-sorbet-before-chilling

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the bittersweet chocolate and cardamom.  Stir until the chocolate has melted.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until thick but still pourable ( I transferred the mixture to a heat-proof bowl before placing it in the fridge).

 

Chocolate-Spice-Sorbet-and-Chocolate-Sauce-sorbet-and-sauce2

4. Freeze the sorbet in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.  The sorbet will be soft-frozen, so scoop into serving dishes immediately before serving. * Even after 30 minutes in the ice cream maker, my sorbet was too soft to hold its shape.  I put it in the freezer overnight before trying to dip it.

 

 Chocolate Sauce Directions

Chocolate-Spice-Sorbet-and-Chocolate-Sauce-solid-butter-and-chocolate

 

Chocolate-Spice-Sorbet-and-Chocolate-Sauce-melted-butter-and-chocolate

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water.

 

Chocolate-Spice-Sorbet-and-Chocolate-Sauce-chocolate-sauce

2. Stir in the sugar and cream and lower the heat.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until thick.