01 August, 2015

Blackberry Jam

I promise this will be the last berry jam/sauce recipe for the season. However, there's this lovely, short space of the year when blackberries and raspberries are in season together and I had to take advantage. This is a fast, no-sugar-added jam, but if it's not sweet enough for you feel free to add some sugar at the end, before you refrigerate.

Blackberry Jam

Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 cup of jam

Ingredients


  • 3/4 cup blackberries
  • 3/4 cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Directions

  1. Place berries in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir slowly but constantly.
  2. When the raspberries have broken down into liquid, sprinkle in the cornstarch. Stir quickly to prevent clumping. (Sorry for the terrible photo; my camera was struggling with the steam.)
  3. Continue stirring until the blackberries have broken down and the liquid has begun to thicken. (Taste it here. If you want to add sugar, do it now and continue to heat and stir until dissolved.)
  4. Pour jam into a jar and refrigerate. It will continue to thicken as it cools. 

25 July, 2015

Carrot and Mushroom Bake

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you just knew you wouldn't have time to cook? That was me this past week. This recipe, from Triss, is probably more suited to a cold winter's night, but it was quick and easy and made enough that I decided to go for it so I could reheat leftovers all week. All in all, I found it to be quite delicious and simple, with little hands-on time compared to some casseroles.

Carrot and Mushroom Bake




Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Yield: 10 servings as a side dish or 6 as an entree with sides

Ingredients


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 pound carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups whole-wheat bread crumbs, divided
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes, or until starting to brown.
  3. Add mushrooms and garlic to the skillet and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Drain any water the mushrooms sweat.
  4. Add spices, carrots, and 1 cup of the breadcrumbs to the skillet and mix well.
  5. Pour the warm mixture into a 9x13 baking pan and top with the remaining cup of bread crumbs.
  6. Top with the shredded cheese, then bake for 40 minutes.

18 July, 2015

Raspberry Sauce

Raspberry sauce was mentioned in many of the Redwall books, usually when somebody was in the process of pouring it over something else. I decided to try it out. This is great poured over just about anything: cake, ice cream, chocolate, spooned out of the saucepan...ok, that last one was a little extreme, but I had about half a tablespoon I couldn't fit into my mason jars and I had to do something with it...

Raspberry Sauce

Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: about a pint of sauce

Ingredients
  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup water

Directions
  1. Combine raspberries, sugar, and juice in a saucepan.
  2. Whisk together the cornstarch and water until dissolved.
  3. Add that to the saucepan as well.
  4. Simmer for five minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until uniformly smooth.
  6. Simmer an additional two minutes to thicken further, then strain if desired to remove seeds.


11 July, 2015

Mint tea

Mint tea is an interesting beast. It can easily be enjoyed hot on a cold winter night or cold on a warm summer afternoon. It's also remarkably simple and inexpensive to make -- no need to buy teabags or leaves. If you have mint growing nearby, it can even be free to make.

Mint Tea

Cook time: 1 minute
Steep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 6 minutes

Yield: Any amount you wish

Ingredients


  • Water
  • Fresh mint leaves -- I recommend one leaf (one-inch or larger) per ounce of water, but you can easily add more if you want a strong flavor
Directions

  1. Put your leaves in a vessel, such as your mug or a pitcher. I put them in a bowl because my mugs are very dark and the leaves weren't visible in the pictures.
  2. Heat water. You can place it in your microwave on the "beverage setting," run it through a coffee machine with the filter removed, or heat it in a kettle or on the stove.
  3. Pour the water over the leaves. They may blacken in spots from the heat, but don't worry. It won't affect anything.
  4. Let the leaves steep for five minutes.
  5. Use a fork to fish the leaves out of the water. 
  6. CAREFULLY, squeeze out the leaves over the water. This is a very important step and you'll notice the water you squeeze out will be significantly darker than the water left in your vessel. This is all the minty goodness you're squeezing out.
  7. Mix the water around to distribute the extract.
  8. Enjoy hot or cover and refrigerate until the tea is your desired level of cold.

04 July, 2015

Almond Shortbread

Shortbread is a very simple cookie and its simplicity is what makes it so delicious. In my mind, shortbread, if flavored or altered, must use only delicate flavors to not upset the simplicity of the cookie. In Doomwyte, almond shortbread is mentioned. At first I was a little wary, since almond can be a powerful flavor in cases like almond butter. By replacing some of the flour with ground almonds, however, and adding a touch of almond extract, we can keep the delicate flavor and texture of good shortbread while adding a subtle taste of almond.

Almond Shortbread


Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Yield: 16 large squares or 32 smaller rectangles

Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 6 tbsp butter (softened)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • milk (maybe)
Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, almonds, and cornstarch.
  3. In a separate, larger bowl beat together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
  4. Beat the almond extract into the butter and sugar.
  5. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet until uniform. At this point, you may need to add a tablespoon of milk. You want the dough to be dry but still stick together. If you have crumbling sand dough, add milk one tablespoon at a time until the dough will stick together when squeezed.
  6. With wet hands, press the dough into an 8"x8" pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. 
  7. Cool on a cooling rack, then cut into slices with a sharp knife and serve. 

27 June, 2015

Cherry Cake

The book Salamandastron was a big one for food, with all of the feasts with the hares. One of the many desserts mentioned was a cherry cake. For a while I was toying with the idea of making a vanilla cake with chunks of cherries mixed in, but I was worried about how the fresh fruit would handle the heat of baking. Then I saw a recipe for cherry cupcakes on a blog I follow and decided to use that idea. I used very little sugar in these because my fresh cherries were ripe and sweet. You may need to add a little more if yours are underripe.

Cherry Cake



Prep time: 20 minutes (less if you're a faster cherry pitter than I am)
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

Yield: 1 cake (I recommend 8 slices)

Ingredients


  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose white flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 30 fresh cherries
  • 2 tbsp milk 
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Stem, halve, and pit the cherries. You should end up with about two cups of cherry halves
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.
  4. Place cherries, milk, vinegar, oil, and vanilla into a blender and puree until smooth. It's ok if you have some bits of cherry skin still floating around.
  5. Pour the cherry mixture into the flour mixture and mix very gently. The baking soda and vinegar will react and you don't want to push out the air. 
  6. Pour the batter into a cake pan and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is dry and a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the pan on a rack until ready to slice and serve.

20 June, 2015

Cherry and Meadowcream Pie

Cherries are in season! This makes me so happy; cherries are one of my favorite fruits. When I read about this pie in The Outcast of Redwall, I thought immediately that it would work beautifully with a thickly set, meadowcream pudding. It turns out I was right. I kept my cherries in large halves and lined the bottom of the pie crust, but feel free to chop them and mix them into the meadowcream; just stir occasionally during the chilling process to re-suspend them. I also used a pre-made crust because I was in a rush making this for a birthday. If you have the time, I highly recommend making your own crust, either out of shortbread or a simple pastry dough.

Cherry and Meadowcream Pie



Cook time: 5 minutes
Chill time: 4 hours
Total time: 4 hours, 5 minutes

Yield: One pie (eight slices recommended)

Ingredients


  • Pie crust, baked if necessary
  • One batch of meadowcream (cooked but not yet set)
  • Halved, pitted cherries (I used about 14)
Directions

  1. Line the bottom of the pie crust with cherry halves, cut side down.

  2. Cook the meadowcream. While still hot and liquidy, slowly pour over the cherries until the crust is filled.
  3. Cover the pie with plastic wrap so that the plastic is completely touching the cream. (No air should be touching the custard. This will prevent a skin from forming.
  4. Chill the pie for about 4 hours or until set.
  5. Slice and serve.
If you have extra meadowcream, just pour it into ramekins or mason jars and let set on its own.