Monday, August 31, 2009

Wild Maine Blueberry Honey Coffee Cake

Saturday was one of those blissful mornings, I awoke to the sound of rain plunking off the air conditioner unit in the bedroom window, which for the first time in weeks was thankfully not needed. It was perfect sleeping weather, the sound of rain blocking out all of the other ambient sounds of our street waking up. I, for the first time in what felt like months, rolled out of bed, started a pot of coffee, and then went blissfully back to bed - the smell of fresh coffee wafting up the stairs. I did not worry about getting my running sneakers on, setting the GPS satellites, packing my lunch, I just relaxed. When I did get up - I found the weather and the blissfully cool kitchen the perfect excuses to bake. I had frozen wild Maine blueberries in the freezer from our trip to visit my aunt at the beginning of the month, and I had all ingredients on hand to make whatever I felt like. I turned to my standby for healthy and distinct recipes, 101 Cookbooks, I wasn't on the site long before I spied this recipe for Maple Huckleberry Coffee Cake - I made minor changes, just to make it my own, and because I wanted to use the blueberries I had on hand. Here is her recipe with side notes for what I did differently.

Wild Maine Blueberry Honey Coffee Cake

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or spelt flour)
3 tablespoons rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup maple syrup, room temperature (I used honey)
1 large egg, room temperature
zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used soy milk with 1 tsp lemon juice)
1 1/3 cups fresh wild huckleberries (or other berries), well picked over (I used wild blueberries

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut 1/4-inch cubes
1/3 cup maple sugar (or brown sugar) (I used brown sugar)
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts)

special equipment: a 1-pound loaf pan

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees, rack in the middle. Butter a 1-pound loaf pan, and line with parchment paper. Alternately, you could just butter and flour the pan, but I've found that lining the pan with parchment makes removing the cake from the pan after baking no problem.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, thyme, and rosemary. Set aside. In a separate large bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer or by hand - until light and fluffy. Drizzle in the maple syrup and beat until well incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple times along the way. Beat in the egg, lemon zest, and vanilla extract, scraping the sides again. Add half of the flour, stir just a bit, now add a splash of the buttermilk, stir again, but not too much. Add the rest of the flour and stir a bit, and now the rest of the buttermilk. Stir until everything barely comes together and then very gently fold in one cup of the huckleberries. Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pan and set aside.

To make the streusel topping, place the flour, butter, maple sugar, thyme and pecans in a food processor and pulse 20-30 times or until the topping is a bit beyond sandy/crumbly. It should be moist-looking - on its way to being slightly doughy. Crumble 2/3 of it over the cake batter, sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup huckleberries on top of that, and then add the last of the crumble. Barely pat in place with your fingertips.

Place the coffee cake in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for five minutes and then remove it from the pan to cool on a rack (this way the cake won't steam in the pan as it's cooling.

Serves 12 - 16 modest slices.

This bread is not sweet, it's more savory - and the fresh thyme and rosemary really comes through. Its such a great alternative to the super sweet breakfast breads and coffee cakes that we are so used to.

Rating - Damn Good

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ratataouille_WW 1pt

I've been struggling with writing a post, not because I hadn't cooked anything that merited posting, but because I didn't feel like I had anything particularly interesting to say. I don't think you come here to be bored, sure, of course you come for the recipes, but humor me and tell me you come for the commentary and stories too. Lately, I just feel like I've been trying to catch my bearings with the new job and the new commute, a commute which gets me home about an hour later than I used to, and which makes me feel all rushed at the end of the day.

However, the other day I was listening to The Splendid Table on American Public Media and the host was interviewing a couple who had recently written a book titled "What We Eat When We Eat Alone: Stories and 100 Recipes" this got me thinking. There are certain things that I will not eat in front of people, even CB. Not because they are gross, but because they are weird. For example, when I am home alone, I will not only eat a spoonful of peanut butter, I will make a well in the peanut butter and squirt maple syrup into the well, and then I will top that with cool whip. Yes, this is what I eat when no one is looking, and I eat it at the refrigerator with all the ingredients on a shelf, and I just pull the ingredients out over and over until I have had enough. I eat this with the refrigerator door open in the off chance that CB comes home and I don't know, and he walks into the kitchen; the door is my buffer - it gives me a few seconds to shove the spoon in my mouth and then rearrange the peanut butter, syrup and cool whip so it doesn't look like they are lined up. I have other things that I eat when no one is home, but the PBSCW spoonful is pretty much my go to.

So, I ask, what do you eat when no one is home. The more gross the better. Also, if you have this book, or know anyone who has it, I'd love to borrow it.

Okay, on to the recipe. If I'm being honest with you, I have wanted to make this recipe for years. Ever since I saw the movie Ratatouille on DVD; like two years ago. I don't know what the hell I've been doing for two years that I was too busy to throw this recipe together, but I digress. I made it this weekend because the farmers market was just ripe with all of the ingredients. It is a Weight Watchers recipe, and I thought it was delicious, but I think CB thought it lacked a little um, flavor. Maybe if I had sauteed the onions and leeks in butter instead of pan spray he would have thought differently, but then it wouldn't have been a weight watchers recipe, now would it have been. I was very happy with it.

Here goes
Ratatouille | WW 1.5 pts

Makes 4 servings

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • fresh or dried herbs: basil, oregano, thyme, parsley
  • fresh grounded black pepper

Chop the onion.Cut bell peppers in thumb sized slices.Peel and dice eggplant.Dice zucchini.Peel, seed and chop tomatoes.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring constantly until golden.

Add 1 cup water and the sliced bell peppers; cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated, 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup water, the eggplant and zucchini; cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated, 7 minutes.

Add tomatoes, tomato juice, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme and black pepper. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally; add additional water if necessary.

Uncover, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until vegetables are tender but still retain their shape and liquid has evaporated, 10 minutes.

Divide evenly among 4 plates, garnish with parsley and serve.

The Ratatouille may be served hot, cold or at room temperature.

Nutritional Information
per serving:
1.5 WW-Points
105 Calories
3 g Total Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol

Rating = Damn Good

Friday, August 21, 2009

Randon Thought b/c it's too damn hot to cook

This week the only thing I have had for lunch is cottage cheese, salsa, crusty bread, and vegetables.
All cold, all requiring absolutely no heat at all because it has been HOT AS BALLS here in the northeast.

Man, I wanted to cook, I wanted to bake and use all the carrot recipes that you sent me, but I would rather chew glass than turn that oven on. So. I leave you with this random thought that was sent to me this morning.

Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you're going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you're crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

This made me laugh out loud. Because I've done it. Not a lot, but it's happened on occasion.

I swear people, as soon as it's not so hot that you get boob sweat just sitting around. I'll be baking and cooking again. Also, my dad is going to come up and help me attempt to can for the first time. I'm going to try and make relish and jelly. Wish me luck and all that crap.

Have a great weekend, see you on the flip side.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

As Paul Says....Hippie Bread

The same man who ate a burger off a grill that had been placed over a fire, lit with a flare and possibly fueled by wood, beach trash, latex etc. (see here) referred to this as Hippie Bread. I suppose it is, but it didn't stop him from eating it, I don't think. Although, maybe he just said he tried it. I'm not sure. Next time I visit, I'm going to bring Guinness bread, that he can't possibly have a problem with, unless of course, I add to many nuts or something and, (as he puts it) totally shit-ify the whole thing.

I absolutely loved this bread. I based it on this recipe. I didn't add the curry powder, but I did add about 1/3 cup sunflower seeds which I think was a great addition. I also added about 1/8 cup candied lemon rind which also added a nice zing to the bread.

I think that if you like zucchini bread, and you have a few dozen lying around like I do at the moment, this is a fabulous way to use some up. They are also good as door stoppers, paper weights, whiffle-ball bats.

I did get a recipe for zucchini relish today that a friend of my aunt made and brought to the aforementioned Maine Grilling Party, which was absolutely to die for and I can't wait to make it.

Now, I ask you. Does anyone have any good recipes for carrots? I bought one of those ridiculously large bags of baby carrots at BJ's the other day - and I don't think I will be able to eat them all before the use by date. Does anyone have any really good carrot muffin or carrot scone or carrot whatever recipes that would use up some of the shit ton of carrots that are in my refrigerator?

Rating = So Damn Good

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Maine Campsite Cooking Techniques

So, what do you do when you're on an island only accessible via boat, with 11 of your friends and family and mid way through cooking the burgers on your portable gas grill you run out of propane, and then you realize you have absolutely no matches. Well, you wade out to your boat and grab your emergency kit, gather all the sticks and wood from the island you can find, and then light the fire with your emergency flares. Mmm I'm sure there are no carcinogenic chemicals in that there flare Bill. This is how we roll in Maine.

So glad that I don't eat meat and it didn't matter if my veggie burger was cooked or not.

Just getting back from vacation, and starting my new job. The commute sucks, but I'm getting used to it. More posts coming. Talk soon.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Black Bean, Corn and Zucchini Enchilada | Cooking Light

This is not my picture, I copied it from the Cooking Light website. We ate the enchiladas too fast for me to even think about taking a picture.

We first had this dish at my friend Hallie's house, and we have been dying to make it ever since. It takes some time because you have to make the enchilada sauce and the vegetables separate, but it's really no different than having to make a marina sauce for pasta or for a casserole in advance of assembling and baking the dish. Its a good meal to feed a crowd as it makes 8 huge, fat, stuffed enchiladas. You can easily double this recipe for a party or a pot luck. In addition to the zucchini, corn and black beans, I pan fried some extra firm tofu and added that to the zucchini mixture for extra protein in the dish. This is a great recipe, and at 342 calories and 4.2 grams of fat per serving (one enchilada) it won't undo your diet at the end of the day. Serve with a nice cold Dos Equis and call it a day.

Here is a link to the recipe on the Cooking Light website. LINK!

Rating = So Damn Good