Sunday, August 9, 2015

Streusel Oat Banana Walnut Muffins

Banana Walnut Muffins
There comes a point in time when you have to commit to using the collection of bananas you've tossed into the freezer as they've gone from yellow to brown to just not okay. You toss them in the freezer, peeled or maybe unpeeled, and forget about them until space is limited. I think of these as guilt reduction bananas because I actually use the bananas (and maybe some nuts) instead of throwing them out. Also, the neighbors get some and that just good community building. This wins times a million.

There isn't anything spectacular about this recipe other than it's a solid, not going to spill over the sides of your muffin pan cups nor be too dry kind of recipe. You don't have to fret. I promise.

The only little bit of a tricky thing about this recipe is that it takes buttermilk powder, which is a fun thing to have in the house. If you use real butter milk, strain your banana goop and use only the banana solids. It will reduce the liquid in the muffin.

Oat Topping

0.25 cup butter
0.50 cup flour
0.25 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
0.50 cup quick oats
pinch of salt

Muffin Batter

1.25 cup sugar
0.5 cup butter
2 eggs
3 bananas, super ripe, drained, reserve and measure the liquid
0.5 cup of banana liquid
1 tsp. vanilla
2.5 cups flour
2 tablespoons buttermilk powder (or 0.5 cup buttermilk)
2 tsp. baking powder
0.5 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
0.25 ginger, allspice and cloves
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Topping-heat the butter to soft in a microwavable bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, toss with fingers until combined. Squeeze it into fragile lumps. Set aside.

In a bowl cream the sugar and butter. Add eggs. Add bananas, liquid and vanilla.
In a separate bowl combine flour buttermilk powder, salt and spice. Combine until just moistened. Add the nuts by hand.

Line 24 muffin cups with paper, scoop batter evenly between the cups, about half full. Top with crumble, making small clumps as you put it on the muffin.

Bake for 17-21 minutes.

Oh, I've been asked why I type my recipes in decimals and not fractions. Mostly it's because I scale recipes for a living and the first step is converting fractions to decimals. It's how my brain works.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Surprising Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Piles of Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Why is it surprising? It looks like what you might find at any picnic but it's totally a flavor powerhouse.

This is not your granny's Macaroni Salad. I had it at a local Hawaiian restaurant and then went on a quest to find a recipe on the internet.

The problem is that people keep repeating the same recipe and publishing it. That's okay but totally meh. I would have to guess that there are as many Hawaiian macaroni salads as there are Ohio grandma's recipes for the pickle relish sweet macaroni salad. There were a few that gave the technique, which is important, and broke down the reason why it works. So I took what I found and made it my own.

Surprising Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

1 pound elbow macaroni
2 tsp. sea salt to boil

0.75 cup cider or red wine vinegar

2 cups heavy, real mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
4 teaspoons brown sugar
0.25 teaspoon white pepper
0.5 teaspoon kosher salt
4 green onions, minced
1 cup grated carrots
0.5 cup celery, minced

Boil the elbow macaroni in salty water. Boil until the noodles are soft up to a half hour. Drain. Do not rinse or cool. While hot pour vinegar over the noodles and toss. Let cool on the counter while you prep the remaining ingredients. That's the trick.

Combine the mayo, sour cream, milk, brown sugar, pepper and salt in a bowl. Grate the carrot, mince the celery and green onions.  Add the vegetables and dressing to the noodles. Cool in the refrigerator and serve. It's usually better the second day.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Peachy Peach Pie

Peachy Peach Pie
I'm not one to vacillate. 

I actually hate vacillating, even in a fan. I mean, blow one way or don't blow at all. It doesn't make me popular. I know that but you do know where I stand on pretty much everything. No one will call me wishy-washy, ever. When Divergent came out, the book, the movie, it was all the rage to figure out your faction. Everyone, with glee almost, told me I was Candor. Not one person vacillated about me. 

Peaches are vexing. They may very well be my favorite fruit. But I love strawberries and goodness knows I love an apple. Cooked plums can send me in a revery unparalleled and don't get me started on citrus. I've made lemon curd to give as gifts only to eat it up instead, because well, I wanted to. Or maybe I have a problem. I seem to be full of a little too much self-awareness for a recipe page. At anyrate, peaches are in season and I've given myself a tummy ache. 

I had to buy more. I was feeling too lazy to 'put them up' and I have a tiny freezer so freezing them really isn't really a solution. I decided to make  a giant deep dish pie. I have a place to share it tomorrow, so here's what I did.  

Peachy Peach Pie

10 peaches
juice of 1 lemon
0.75 cup sugar
0.75 cup flour, less if they are not juicy peaches
0.5 tsp. salt
0.25 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tablespoon butter 

2.5 cups white flour
0.5 tsp. salt
0.5 cup Crisco (so what)
about 0.5 cup cold water

sugar for sprinkling on top

For the filling, peel the peaches by dropping them in boiling water for 1 minute then putting them in an ice water bath. Remove the pits and slice. Toss the peaches in the juice of the lemon. Add the sugar, flour, salt and nutmeg. Stir until the flour is absorbed in the moisture of the peaches. Set aside while you make and roll the crusts. 

For the crust, stir the salt into the flour. Cut in the shortening. Rub it together quickly and lightly so you don't heat the fat too much. Add water until it holds together when you take a pinch. Use as little water as possible. Make 2 balls of dough, one bigger than the other. The bigger one is the bottom crust. Roll it between two sheets of parchment, line the pie pan. 

Pour in the pie filling into the lined pan. Dot with butter. 

Roll the second dough ball. It doesn't need to be as big because it doesn't need to go up the sides of the pie pan. I made a lattice in the picture but a solid top is fine too. Cut holes to vent the pie if you make a solid top. I fold the excess dough under the lip of the crust and pinch it into a ridge I then flute. The hint to fluting is turn the pie not your hand as you go around the edge. 

Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 20 minutes on a parchment lined pan that's bigger than your pie pan, to capture any bubbling fruit. 


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Iced Coffee

The daughter is trying to enjoy coffee. It's a peer pressure thing. It comes with  good so I can't complain. The same peer is a vegetarian so my kid is expanding her list of possible vegetable options. 

This recipe is for my memory. 

5 ounces good coffee
6 quarts cold water

Combine them, mix, let steep overnight or at least 8 hours. Double strain through cheese cloth or I use the fine mesh insert from my drip coffee maker for the second straining. 

Keep chilled and serve. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Salted Butterscotch Cookies

It's an internet chain reaction.

I have a blogger fan-girl crush on Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella.

You don't need to scratch too deeply on this blog to see where I make what she makes. Mostly because our baking brains are aligned and that's no small thing. Plus she's a prolific, professional, perfect food blogger; a little personal stuff, a well tested recipe with accurate directions, beautiful photos and an engaging question to the reader at the end. She also says "howdy do" on my modest little blog every now and then.

Today at work it was suggested that I sweet talk my boss for a small favor (adjusting my schedule). It was in jest of course and I said I would ask politely but that's about the best I was going to do. But the boss has a sweet tooth and I have a penchant for baking and it will make for good laughs all around if I bring cookies while mentioning the schedule.

Lorraine's blog came across my email and the recipe has everything I want in a cookie. That means I have most of the ingredients and the portioning can happen quickly. No rolling and using cookie cutters for a Thursday evening project. 5 minutes later I was in the kitchen mixing up a batch. I've changed a few things for ease in an American kitchen. e.g. I used a 4 ounces of butter not 3.5 because it's just easier.

She calls these Swedish Butterscotch Cookies and they are buttery and crispy like a Speculoos but a million times easier to make. They are baked in a loaf/log and cut into strips once out of the oven, like biscotti, but with out the second round in the oven.

Salted Butterscotch Cookies

1 stick butter, 4 ounces, softened butter
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup, + 1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
kosher salt, but I wanted sea salt

Preheat oven 350 F oven.

In a food processor because I didn't want to bother with getting the mixer out, blend butter, honey and sugar until fluffy. Scrape sides. Add vanilla and blend. Add flour and baking powder, pulse the processor.

Divide in two, roll into a log, then press. I rolled my lightly with a bottle, just to get rid of finger ridges. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake 18-20 minutes. Cut into strips when they are just out of the oven. Cool then bribe your colleagues.

A Very General Asian Pork Marinade

My daughter's favorite meal is seared pork, blistered green beans and rice. The rice is optional as is the pork. However everyone else would like more than a plate of green beans for dinner.

I had a huge pork loin sitting in the freezer and the google twitch to find something different than my go to teriyaki marinade. This is sorta what I found. The cumin is an outlier as far as my typical fare. I mean I use it for Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexico and below (Central and South American) food. Also some Spanish dishes. This was good though. I wanted to capture it for future use.

I'm totally known for shooting from the hip while I cook and NEVER ever getting it just the same again later. Most times that's okay unless I struck upon something fantastic. This was fantastic.

Asian Pork Marinade

1 bunch of green onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch of ginger, peeled and minced
2/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chili paste
1 teaspoon cumin
3.5 pound pork loin, cut into skinny strips.*

1 large onion, cut in strips

2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water

oil for searing.

Combine all the ingredients in a ziplock bag. Squish it around to cover all the pork, squeeze out the air. Marinate at least 4 hours up to 24.

Heat a heavy skillet. Add a touch of oil and meat drained of the marinade (reserve the marinade). Cook the pork in batches. Move the pork to a shallow dish once it is cooked. After you've cooked all the pork, wipe the pan clean. Add a little more oil and reduce the heat to medium. Cook onions until soft. Add the reserved marinade. Cook until it's simmering. Thicken with cornstarch and water slurry. Add pork back to the pan to cover with sauce. Serve.

*I use pork loin in the small cut because pan searing the meat, it needs to cook quickly and still be tender. If you used a more marbled cut of pork you'd need to cook it low and slow to make it tender. You could combine a the marinade with pork shoulder cut into chunks and braise it or put it in slow cooker. I'm just not much of a slow cooker appliance lover.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gazelle Horn Cookie-Moroccan

There are so many beautiful cookies in the world. I can get lost on the internet looking at different cookie recipes. I came across these stuffed cookies on a French language website and kind of got sucked down a hole looking for recipes in cups and ounces not in metric.

What I learned is that sometimes they are rolled in powdered sugar, sometime rolled in sesame seeds, sometimes dipped in orange blossom water...

There's a problem however with trying to create a cookie you've never seen in real life or tasted or even had a conversation about with someone who has. How do you know if you are even close? It's pretty much just a leap of faith.

And I never did find a recipe that was in Empirical measures. I did however convert one. That's what I've got here.

Just a note about the orange flower water it is a flavor that is different than orange zest or orange juice. As the name indicates it is very floral. When I smell it straight out of the bottle it seems almost soapy probably because it's a smell used in soap in the USA. But it is mellower once it is added to other ingredients and adds a dimension to the cookie that is lovely. I went low on my use of it too in this recipe. The one I converted used 0.25 cup in the nut filling and no orange oil. I wimped out thinking my family might not like that as well.

Gazelle Horn Cookie like you might find in Morocco


2 cups flour
0.5 cup sugar
0.5 tsp. salt
2 eggs
0.75 cup butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
0.25 cup orange flower water (from a Mediterranean grocery)


2 cups blanched almonds
1.25 cup sugar
0.25 cup butter
1 tablespoon orange flower water (more if you'd like and omit the oil)
1 dram orange oil
0.25 tsp. cinnamon

powdered sugar for rolling

For the dough pulse the ingredients in a food processor 30 seconds after the dough comes together, about a minute total. Form into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; chill for at least an hour. It will be soft.

For the filling pulse the nuts into a fine meal. Add the remaining ingredients, but do not over process, don't make almond butter. Scrape the sides of the bowl a few times. It should hold together if you squeeze it. If not add a tablespoon more of butter.

While the dough is chilling form the nut mixture into "horns" about the size of your pinky, using about a tablespoon of the mixture. Press it against a glass to get a nice semi-circle that is fuller in the middle and tapered at the ends. You should get about 36 of them.

Using a glass to shape the filling
Portion the dough into 20 pieces, roll into a rectangle that is wider half an inch wider and 3 times longer than your semicircle sized nut crescents. Place the crescent on the lower third of the dough.
The size of dough compared to the filling.
Lift the top over the crescent and press the dough around the filling. Press an edge around the filling.
Fold over and press. 
Cut the excess dough off using a knife or like me an antique ravioli cutter. (It is the favorite thing passed to me by someone I love.) Be sure to seal the nut mixture in the dough, it will bubble out while baking if not. You'll use the scrap dough for the remaining 16 cookies. Be gentle with the scraps so you'll have tender cookies.

Trim excess dough. 
Set on a parchment lined cookie sheet and let sit an hour. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Score the cookies with fork or some other pokey tool in a decorative manner just before putting them in the oven.

Bake 15-18 minutes until just golden on the bottom and the dough looks dry.

Remove to a cooling rack. Toss in powdered sugar when cool enough to handle.

These are indeed a fussy cookie. Sometimes you want something fussy, right?

Will you make something you've never seen in real life? How do you explore recipes?