Tag Archives: brunch

Satisfaction & Lemon Ricotta Muffins

We’ve been busy, but that seems like a typical December response. Our oldest began her special little school this past week. It seemed harder for me than her. I’m amazed by her growth. This little girl is showing signs of improvement with every week, which makes me excited with anticipation to see it all unfold.

As I see life twirling around with what seems longer lines and crowded parking lots, I’ve been reminded to breathe and bring in my family to bunker down. Each night we light our Advent candle, read a small portion of Scripture, say a prayer of thanksgiving and see which girl gets to blow out the candle to conclude one more day.  I’m so thankful that I’m able to be in a season of seeing each day as a gift these days.  When I look back on the summer, walking in some of the darkest days I’ve known to see God’s grace & faithfulness on the other end.  And now here I am in the season of Advent to welcome in the coming of not only Jesus’ birth, but the reminder that he will again bring hope.

So remind me of this moment friends…when I begin to worry about whether V will move beyond her current developmental delays, about my health or my families’, or anything else under the sun (you can fill in your own blank here), that there lies a hope, which I find in this Advent season.  I think King David puts it well:

I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Here’s to some satisfaction with yummy muffins.  I have yet to make anything with gluten for a while, so these are from this summer.  However, I think they are fitting for any season, especially a Saturday morning cozy with your loved ones.  Where are you finding satisfaction or sharing that these days?

A Year Ago: Intensely Chocolate Cake & Cranberry-Orange Crostata

Lemon Ricotta Muffins (printable recipe)

This recipe is adapted very slightly from Giada De Laurentis.

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tb lemon zest
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 Tb fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds

raw sugar for sprinkling
Directions:  Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with papers.  In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt, whisk together.

In a large bowl, (or bowl of an electric mixer) using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter & lemon zest until light & fluffy (2 minutes).  Beat in the ricotta.  Then, beat in the egg, lemon juice, & almond extract until just combined.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and stir till just combined (the batter will be thick).

Scoop the batter evenly among the 12 lined muffin cups.  Sprinkle with thinly sliced almonds & some raw sugar on top of muffins.  Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 20 minutes (it will smell amazing).  Cool slightly.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Poached Eggs

If there was one thing I am truly proud of as a mother, it’s the basic necessity of my girls loving runny egg yolks.  Before giving birth to my oldest, I was either an omelet or scrambled eggs lady.  In my postpartum blur in the dreary month of January (there was ice & snow covering the ground for a whole week after V’s birth), my dear father-in-law Steve made me two over easy eggs with buttered toast.  Most things are a blur from that first week (who am I kidding–first couple months), but those eggs.  I never knew they could taste so good.

The whites were set, while the thick, fatty yolk burst out.  I cleaned it up with the buttered toast and I have never looked back.  In fact, I could never be vegan due to the egg.  It’s the most rounded of nutritional value, keeps me more satisfied throughout the morning & the myth of the yolk being a bad cholesterol is probably debunked on snoops.com.

I got this book, The Good Egg by Marie Simmons in an auction last year.  I love how Simmons writes about her love affair with this protein punchers.  I’ve moved on to the poached egg since those postpartum days.  Not only are poached eggs just as easy, they’re so versatile in how you prepare them or eat them.  For breakfast, we eat them with buttered toast or make a sandwich out of them.  I don’t want you to be intimidated by the process, because once you make them again and again–you’re culinary prowess will be more grand.

Poached Eggs

When making poached eggs, you will want to use the freshest eggs possible, because the egg whites won’t scatter everywhere when you slide them into the simmering water.  If you don’t have the freshest eggs, then I would advise not making them.  However, Simmons says you could do a “preboil” with the egg still in the shell.  Bring your water to a boil and immerse the egg in the water for 8 seconds & remove.  Then, proceed with poaching instructions.

Ingredients:

4 eggs

white vinegar

kosher salt

freshly cracked pepper

Directions:

  1. Fill a deep 10-inch skillet with water.  Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 Tb of white vinegar for every 2 quarts of water.
  2. Heat the water until it starts simmering, barely.
  3. Using cold eggs, crack one egg at a time into a small dish/bowl/plate.  Gently slip into the water.  Continue adding eggs clockwise, in order to remove them in the same order, along with equal cooking times.
  4. You can adjust the temperature, in order to keep the water at a bare simmer.  If the water starts to boil, then it will cause the egg whites to toughen & feather.
  5. Cook eggs for 1 minute, then gently loosen them off the bottom of the pan.  I turn my eggs in the water, but it’s a matter of preference.
  6. Poach the eggs for 3 to 5 minutes until desired doneness.
  7. Remove them with a slotted spoon in the order they went into the pan.  Gently put them in a shallow bowl, trying to drain excess water.
  8. Salt & pepper them.  Serve with buttered toast, make eggs benedict, or in a salad.

Rustic Rhubarb Cake

Although I promise to give you a recipe, allow me to ramble a bit.  About the weather, glories, & redeeming the times (and later some rhubarb cake).  I’ve been loving this weather we’ve been given in Bellingham of late.  It makes being a mama so worth it, along with the dreary months in winter.  The sun in full swing, slight breeze, dirt-painted toes in sandals, happy little girls in search of flowers or climbing towers too high for their hands to reach–blissful.  The backdoor is open, while the girls run in and out.

It’s days like this that I’m reminded of how glorious creation is & my homebody nature sheds off.  I become more aware of the little things, birds singing, breeze wisps my hair, the hues of golden & red in my youngest hair.  It’s lovely! It reminds me of how grand the universe is and how little I am. This is a verse from the song, ‘Lovely,’ by the band Waterdeep:

Lord when you sing your song

all of creation will know

Lord when you show your strength

let justice and righteousness flow

when we see your holiness

every tongue confess–You are lovely

God continues to bring me back to him, while he tells me I’m valued, treasured, & I can feel free to cry or laugh in his presence.  I hear the birds singing praise.  The trees lifting their hands to worship. And feel the breeze dance over me, enrapturing all of me–hushing the fear & empowering the dreams–his Spirit.  Today I’m melancholy with joy.  Maybe it’s hormones.  Although I’m breathing in the beauty of the day, I’m exhaling like an asthma sufferer.  My heart is thinking of the marriages dying in this world, the mother who cannot feed her children, the very real fear of war standing outside the door.  And then, I glanced and saw this verse popping out:

He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.  he feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them.  he will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him.–Psalm 72:12-14

No matter how much I can get sucked into the pit of despair (for myself or others), I have to remind myself of this verse.  It’s when life can’t seem to get any worse–it does, but I remember telling Ben in the midst of one of those moments, “I have to remain hopeful, because Jesus still sits on the throne & he’s capable of redeeming the least hopeful of situations or people.”  So maybe you’re having a melancholy day, or a simply wonderful, singing on mountaintops sort of day.  You could easily make this cake.  It’s one of those “one-bowl” wonders sort of cakes.  Plus, you could pass it as breakfast too.

Rustic Rhubarb Cake (printable recipe)

This recipe was given to me many years ago, but I am greatly indebted to the source.  I turn on the oven, spray my pan, & throw everything in the bowl to mix & pour into the pan.  I’ve changed some things up a bit.  I used Rapadura sugar, but you could use granulated sugar.  Instead of hazelnuts, change it out with what you have.  And instead of using whole wheat pastry flour, use all-purpose.

Ingredients

2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup Rapadura sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp kosher salt

For Topping:

1/2 – 3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts

Directions: Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9×13 pan.  In a medium bowl, combine cream, eggs & sugar and mix to combine.  Add flour, baking soda, salt & rhubarb to the bowl and stir until combined.  Pour into prepared pan.

Sprinkle with brown sugar and then the hazelnuts.  Bake for 28-30 minutes.  If you’re using Rapadura sugar, then you’ll really start to smell it at which point use a toothpick to check to see if it’s done.  If a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean–take it out.

Serve it warm, room temperature, dollop of whipped cream, yogurt, for brunch, ice cream–whatever you fancy.


Cinnamon-Almond Danish Rolls

The summer I got engaged I got hired to work in a bakery.  I was one Math class short of getting my A.A. degree, which seem to be taking much longer than intended.  But it’s because my major path kept changing and I wasn’t going to go into debt taking university classes aimlessly.  And since I had thought about going into catering or do something with the Patisserie world, what better way to find out than get a job in the field–right?

I wholeheartedly encourage getting a job in the field before spending the money.  It helped me in my pathway of self-discovery, work ethic and respect for the doughnut maker.  That’s right, the “time to make the doughnuts” guy or gal.  In non-specialized bakeries (ones that do just about everything), when you apply for a job without any work experience you will start at the bottom.  In this instance, it’s the doughnuts.  This means getting to work at 2:00 am, sluggishly weighing the flour, heating up the dispiscable vat of oil, taking the yeast doughnuts out of the proof box…all the while standing in the far back, next to 500 degree ovens, where the only person you converse with from 2am-9am is…YOURSELF.  By day two on the job, I no longer judged the people my manager spoke of during the interview who quit in the middle of their shift (I never became one of them though).

However, the day before my first day of ‘Time to make the doughnuts,’ I had already committed myself to providing breakfast goods for a college student conference.  I was a bit stressed thinking about starting my job, getting my body adjusted to a weird sleep schedule, moving out of my house that week, and being the perfectionist I am about what I produce in the kitchen.  Luckily, Ben reassured me that he could take care of the cinnamon rolls I was making.  I went over how long they needed to be in there a couple times and all the other steps.  I was a bit nervous, but went to bed at 7:00 pm on a Washington summer day (meaning the sun doesn’t set till 9:00pm).  I awoke around 10:30 a bit disoriented, wondering if it was time to get ready.  Not only was I confused about the time, but I had a bad dream about my cinnamon rolls and hurried downstairs.

When I got downstairs I began to panic.  The table was empty.  The counter was empty.  The top of the fridge was empty.  The fridge was empty.  My cinnamon rolls were no where to be found.  I was worried, enraged, baffled and about 1/4 awake.  And let it be known, I am NOT, in any way, shape, or form the person you want to wake in the middle of the night or too early in the morning.  I need my space and as my good friend Hilary said to another roommate, “No, Kamille’s not mad at you…just don’t talk to her in the morning when she first wakes up.”  Well, as I’m searching on the main floor for some answers, I notice some people are in the living room watching a movie.  I slide open the gigantic door to find eaten cinnamon rolls.  I flip.  I absolutely flip and am ready to attack.  I don’t quite remember what I said, but I do remember hearing from Ben what Hilary said, “Ben…Kamille woke up, started rambling, had death in her eye, and–she was SCARY!”

I went back to bed and started my first day with ease.  But what I learned later was my cinnamon rolls got burnt in the oven, so Ben took care of it (like he said he would).  He went and got bagels & cream cheese (the next time I made scones for the college students) while I was the night of living dead towards my friends.  He offered the cinnamon rolls to be eaten for anyone who enjoyed black bottom cinnamon rolls.

There were three other things I learned from that experience.  One is “let it go” (enough said).  Two, I’m still great friends with Hilary and this is a picture of loyalty & love.  And three, my outlook on doughnuts has forever been tainted (Apple fritters go in at 3 oz each and come out of the vat of grease at 6 oz) and that’s not a bad thing.  However, my view on danishes & cinnamon rolls have not.  So why not combine the two and indulge in flaky, buttery goodness.  But make them when you’ve volunteered to bake for say…24 people.

Cinnamon-Almond Danish Rolls (printable recipe)

The recipe is adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book.  The author offers two Danish dough recipes to choose from, so I chose the quick method.  You don’t have to fold in the butter using this method, but a food processor instead.  And the dough had the flakiness I was desiring in a Danish dough.  This is also a two part recipe.


Quick Method Danish Pastry (printable recipe)

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch slices (think a pat of butter)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup warm water, 105 F to 115 F
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or undiluted evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (in baking always use table salt, unless otherwise indicated)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Measure 3 1/2 cups flour into a food processor with a steel blade.  Add the 1/4 inch slices of butter to the flour.  Process the mixture until the butter is about the size of kidney beans.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in the cream or milk, cardamom (if using), salt, eggs, and sugar.  Turn the flour-butter mixture into the wet mixture, and with a rubber spatula, mix carefully just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Cover and refrigerate 4 hours, overnight, or up to 4 days.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board or surface; dust with flour.  Pound and flatten to make a 16-to 20-inch square.  Fold dough into thirds, which will make 3 layers.  Turn dough around and roll out again.  Fold from the short sides into thirds.  This should make a square  (If not, don’t worry too much about it).  Repeat folding and rolling again if you’d like (which I did).  Wrap and chill the dough 30 minutes or as long as overnight.

Cinnamon-Almond Danish Rolls

Ingredients

One batch of Quick Method Danish Pastry

Filling

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds (the original called for 1 cup chopped pecans)
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 slightly beaten egg

Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons hot coffee

Place paper cupcake liners in 24 muffin cups.  Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface to make a 20-inch square.  Spread with the butter.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon & cardamom.

Roll up jelly-roll fashion (remembering to roll tight enough so the ending circle will fit inside muffin tin).  Cut into 24 slices.  Place slices with the cut side up in each muffin cup.

Let rise in a cool place for 30 to 45 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Brush pastries with beaten egg.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden.  Mix the powdered sugar with coffee.  Drizzle the icing over the hot pastries.  Serve warm.



Meyer Lemon-Cranberry Scones

I have been thinking a lot about New Year’s Resolutions of late and whether I want to participate in them. I read recently on Simple Mom blog, where she renamed resolutions as “goals.” Now that’s my kind of anti-resolution, yet wanting to participate sort of thinking.  As I have personal goals within my physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual being, there are also those goals, which aided in the advent of this blog.  I have a couple, or a few, or…well maybe a few times a couple times a few more cookbooks in my library.  And as I love food, there are so many tastes I haven’t experienced.  But even more, as an avid baker & cook, there are even more foods I have yet to handle myself.

To say browsing through a cookbook to untouched foods is a bit daunting is an understatement.  Seriously, where does one begin?  Especially, considering food is ever evolving while your budget is not.  All of this aimless wandering got me thinking about people and their bucket lists.  The typical bucket list encompasses the places yet traveled or adventures yet conquered.  And although I have places yet traveled and adventures yet conquered…it is the food yet melded, the dough yet risen, the desserts yet tamed in my red kitchen.  Life is too short and I feel it only necessary to create a Baking Bucket List (more on this list later).

There are many categories in the baking world I have made many of, while other categories are completely lacking.  One category that I know quite a bit about is…scones, which is good for me and you.  Because if you stick with me on this, you will be happy at the end of eating them.  I remember volunteering to make a breakfast item for a bunch of college students many years back.  I intended to make cinnamon rolls (long story for another post), but it didn’t work out, so I bought this tiny, modest scone cookbook (before food blogs & quick recipe find).  Only pictures of scones lie on the cover, while the rest are drawn.  It goes to show that great cookbooks aren’t all about the pictures.  These scones were have a hint of Meyer lemon, subtle tartness from the cranberries, richness from the cream & butter and sugary crunch from the turbinado sprinkled on top.

Meyer Lemon-Cranberry Scones (printable recipe)

This recipe is inspired from the Cran-Orange Scones found in my trusty scone book, Simply Scones. This dog-eared cookbook warrants fantastic scone results and has never failed me yet.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, drained

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed

2 tablespoons heavy cream (you could substitute whole milk)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of one Meyer lemon (for more flavor, add more zest)

coarse sugar for sprinkling & heavy cream for glaze

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400F.  Put parchment paper or silpat sheet liner on a baking sheet, set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the cranberries & 2 tablespoons of the sugar.  Let stand about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder & salt.  Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and distribute them over the flour mixture.

In another small bowl, stir together the eggs, juice, heavy cream, vanilla & Meyer lemon zest.  Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture and combine using a fork.  After the mixture is 3/4 combined, add the cranberries to the dough.  Combine the rest until all of the dry mixture has been combined with the wet, forming a cohesive mound.  Being careful you don’t over mix or over handle.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, or directly onto the parchment and gently pat it into a 9-inch diameter circle.  Cut about 1/8 inch into the dough, creating 8 slices (see image above), but not cut through the whole way.  Lightly brush the scones slices with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake for 25-27 minutes.

Remove baking sheet to a cooling rack and leave for about 5 minutes.  Cut all the way through the initial cuts and serve warm as is.


Quicky Sticky Biscuits

I recall a moment in time when our dear friend Hilary asked Ben, “Benny, what would be your top 10 books of all time?”  Now, as my husband is a an avid reader as aforementioned, it would seem difficult to find a top 10.  In fact, he just told me yesterday that he checked out the most books from the library than anyone else in his whole elementary school (back when he was in elementary school).  But, he quickly named one off the top of his head (which is another hard thing for my introverted husband to do…he’s more methodical about his ideas & words), 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

If I could summarize what it is that he likes about it (as do I), I would say it’s a book of self-discovery put into action.  It helps you find out who you are, what you are capable of and putting it into practice.  This is huge for Ben.  And as I’ve been married to him for 7 1/2 years now and a mother of two, I have SO appreciated this philosophy on life.  It helps with focusing on the areas of life which are important, but not urgent.  An example of this would be setting a date night with Ben, because although the dishes, laundry & bills are the urgent items in life…having uninterrupted time with my spouse is important for the long haul.  It’s learning to not live life putting out the fires (searching at 5:00 what to make for dinner, searching for a snack 20 minutes too late as your child (or you) screams their head off).

As we approach the New Year, our family is writing up a Mission Statement, in order to live in the Important, but not Urgent.  We are seeking to know what is best for our family and what aligns with our values, dreams & beliefs and not some other family.  Our mission statement will give us direction for our long term goals and help us navigate in our short term goals.  It is also mailable, because visions change course and we need to adaptability.  I not only want to create a haven for Ben & the girls (and other children we might be blessed with), but also for people outside of it.  For our extended family, friends, and the stranger & neighbor who we barely know.  My life has been richly blessed by people who extended kindness, grace & overwhelming care when I needed it most.  And sometimes it was surrounding a dinner table with food, while other times it was around a dinner table with a listening ear & loving embrace.

I hope you would be encouraged by the people who have done the same for you, or how you have been that person in times of need.  May 2010 bring you clarity of perspective, dreams to dream & a dinner table open for an invitation.  Maybe these Quicky Sticky Biscuits will cut through the awkwardness and create a yummy slice of hospitality.

Quicky Sticky Biscuits (printable recipe)

Recipe is adapted from the book, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor.  These biscuits are not for the faint at heart.  They are rich & buttery and they’re not ashamed to show it.  If you’re looking for something light or watching your figure, be warned, as these biscuits will blow your 2010 resolution diet out the window.  BUT, they are definitely amazing and worth bringing to a family brunch (so you won’t be tempted to eat too many).

For the Sticky Pecan Sauce:

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted

For the Biscuits:

4 cups bleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup (2 sticks) very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

1 1/2 to 2 cups cold buttermilk (I used 2 cups)

For the Topping:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted (depending on how rich you want them, use 1/4 cup for less rich)

POSITION A RACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OVEN AND PREHEAT TO 425F.  Grease a 9×13 inch pan with softened butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

TO MAKE THE SAUCE: Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter.  Melt over low heat.  When the butter is melted, increase the heat to high and bring to a gentle boil.  Cook, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the chopped nuts.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Set aside.

TO MAKE THE BISCUITS: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender (if you don’t have a pastry blender than use two butter knives to cut the butter).  Blend until most of the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, with some of the bits of butter the size of small peas.

MAKE A SHALLOW WELL IN THE CENTER OF THE FLOUR MIXTURE AND POUR IN 1 1/2 CUPS OF THE COLD BUTTERMILK (I used the whole 2 cups at this point).  Use a fork to blend the buttermilk into the flour to create a soft dough.  If the dough seems too dry as you are stirring it, add the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times to make sure it comes together.  Pat the dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle.  Use a sharp chef’s knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into 12 square biscuits.

TO MAKE THE TOPPING: In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon.  Brush the tops of the biscuits with some of the melted butter and sprinkle with some of the cinnamon-sugar.  Place the biscuits, evenly spaced, cinnamon-sugar-side down, into the pecan syrup-lined pan.  Brush the tops (once the bottom) of the biscuits with more melted butter and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon-sugar.

BAKE THE BISCUITS UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN AND PUFFY, and the sticky pecan sauce is bubbling around them, 15-17 minutes (it took more like 23-25 minutes for me).  Cool slightly, then place a large serving platter over the top of the pan and invert it.  Remove the pan and allow the pecan sauce to fall around the biscuits.  Use a small spatula to scrape any residual syrup from the pan onto the biscuits.  Serve immediately (but they taste pretty darn good hours later).