With Passover coming early, I thought I would try out a few recipes in advance. This one is not so much a recipe as an idea. It was inspired by a several pretty creations I saw on the Internet.
Make any Passover friendly recipe for deviled eggs (I added a bit of horseradish to mine) and then arrange them with green onions, watercress, dill, and radishes to form flowers and buds. What a lovely dish this would make for a Passover (or Easter) brunch!
Poor brown-spotted banana sitting all alone in the big produce bowl in my kitchen. What can I do with such a sad little fellow? We always seem to leave a banana behind as everyone grabs for one a the peak of their favorite ripeness and then my family grows sick of that fruit and moves on to oranges, apples, or whatever graces the fruit bowl. For a time, I skinned and wrapped the leftovers and tossed them in the freezer in hopes of collecting them later and making a recipe. The only thing I ended up doing later on was throwing out freezer-burnt bags of mush of unknown vintage. So I had this one banana and I was hungry for breakfast so I made Lonely Banana Walnut Muffins.
Here is the recipe and it should be mixed by hand with a fork (no need for the heavy machinery here!). If you like whole wheat flour that will work fine. If you would rather use brown sugar-go ahead. No buttermilk-no problem use whole milk. Keep this recipe handy and honor the lonely banana!
Lonely Banana Muffins
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 very ripe banana
1/2 Stick butter
1/4 cup butter milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
pinch of ground cinnamon
6 cup muffin tin and no-stick spray or a bit of butter to grease the pan
Melt butter in a two-cup measuring cup or a small bowl (measuring cup is great because you can use it to gather all the wet ingredients and pour into the dry later). In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon and stir with a fork. To the melted butter add buttermilk, egg, banana and mash the mixture together with a fork. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and stir with (you guessed it) a fork. If there are little lumps and no flour showing when you finish mixing, you have done it right. Stir in the walnuts gently. Pour into muffin tin and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until risen and nicely brown.
Passover is almost here and one of my favorite dishes is not served at the seder. Usually the morning after the big family gathering or on the weekend during Passover we always make Matzo Brei. It is the French Toast (sha don’t even mention bread during the holiday) of Passover. A simple dish of matzo and eggs which is usually served with a little sugar or jam on top. While I love the classic version, I thought it would be fun to mix a family favorite breakfast, cheesy scramble, with matzo brei. I topped it off with a dollop of fig spread which is wonderful on sweet or savory dishes. I don’t keep a Kosher kitchen but for those that do these is a fabulous Kosher for Passover sharp cheddar from Cabot that would be great in this recipe (I used the regular sharp cheddar for this version).
5 large eggs
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons butter
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese (shredded finely)
1 small onion sliced thin
salt & pepper to taste
3-4 tablespoons fig preserves
Heat a large skillet and add butter. When the butter is just starting to sizzle add onions. Cook onions to tender and translucent but not brown. Beat the eggs and milk in a large shallow bowl. Break up the matzo into pieces and place in a colandar. Wet the matzo briefly with warm water but do not soak and allow water to drain. Carefully transfer the matzo to the egg mixture and allow to stand for a few minutes until some of the egg is absorbed by the matzo. Toss in the cheese and add salt & pepper. Pour the matzo mixture over the onions and cook on medium, stirring the mixture until the eggs set and bits get lightly browned. Serve immediately topped with fig jam.
The holidays are over and finally a bit a cold weather has arrived after an unusually warm start to the winter in New England. I awoke early to a dusting of snow on the ground and a chilly breeze outside my window and headed for the kitchen. My favorite time to bake is morning and I thought it would be a nice treat to bring something sweet to nibble on to my client meeting. I had tucked away a few jars of Holiday Table jam (cranberry & pecan with cranberry honey) since my family complains that sometimes I sell every jar of a flavor they like and it also it seemed like a great flavor to use in baking. I made up some buttermilk biscuit dough (recipe below)and patted it out in a long rectangle. I spread some melted butter on the dough and then warmed the jam and spread it on the dough leave a bit of a clean edge on one side. Them I sprinkled a cinnamon sugar mix over the jar and butter and tossed on a handful of chopped pecans. I carefully rolled it up jelly roll fashion (the long side gets rolled) and cut it into one inch chunks. The little rolls were placed in a buttered mini muffin tin and baked at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. While the rolls baked, I made a quick glaze of one tablespoon fresh orange juice, one teaspoon honey, and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar all mixed together until smooth. When the rolls when done, I turned them out onto a cooking rack and drizzled them with the orange glaze.
Petite Sweet Rolls
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons butter melted
2/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
Mix baking powder and flour in a mixing bowl
Mix melted butter, buttermilk, and milk
pour wet ingredients into the dry and mix just to combine
3 oz jam (always plenty of jam around here)
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons cinnamon/sugar mix
1/4 cup chopped nuts or raisins if desired
I have to admit that I sometimes I crave awful drive-through breakfast food. If you need to stop reading my blog or unfriend me on Facebook after this revelation, I will understand. This morning, over tired and stressed; the greasy, salty siren song of the McSomething called to me as I drove to a meeting. Somehow I was able to resist and tonight I rewarded myself with a slow food biscuit, egg, cheese, and sausage late night supper.
I tossed together some cheddar biscuits (similar recipe to the corn biscuits here, but without corn and with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar) and while they were baking, I found the frozen lamb and apple sausage patties I had saved from my Lamb ProAm supper. I browned the sausage nicely in a hot pan and put it aside while I soft scrambled a Golden Egg Farm egg. I took a hot biscuit right from the oven and piled on my lamb sausage and topped it with egg and arranged it on a pretty plate.
The Egg, Cheese, Lamb Biscuit was a delicious treat and I didn’t even miss at all the experience of peeling stuck cheese from the paper wrapper or dropping chunks of egg in my lap as I swerved to avoid a maniac driver on Route 3.
Much (OK all) of my kitchen time this summer has been spent happily making jam. Last week I developed a longing to bake again. Perhaps it was the first cool breeze heralding the end of summer that was to blame for this desire but the oven went on and then I surveyed the pantry and fridge. Pies and tarts came to mind but all the fruit I had was destined for jars. My eyes fell on a stack of corn from the farmers market. I snatched two small ears leaving plenty for dinner and shaved the kernels into a bowl. I added the corn to one of my favorite drop biscuit recipes and reveled in the smell of warm butter pouring from the oven. I broke one open as soon as they were baked and ate it hot at the kitchen counter. Hmmm…maybe I should bake some plain biscuits too. I do need something to go with all this jam.
Summer Corn Biscuits
1 stick butter
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup fresh corn kernels
1 Tbs snipped chives
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut in cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs using hand pastry blender, food processor or stand mixer. Do not over mix. Stir in buttermilk until just combined. Stir in corn and chives gently. Scoop out 12 lumps of dough onto an ungreased baking tray leaving an each between. Bake until light brown and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
I love the references to snack cakes or “busy day” cakes in my 1940s and 1950s vintage cookbooks. Even the busiest mistress of the house still needed to whip up a little something for her brood. Some fast food packaged muffin will never meet the daunting task of chasing away the horrible after-school hungries in this house. In the spirit of the busy day cake, I have made up my own favorite speedy snack recipes and the current favorite is Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack Cakes. I bake them in a bar shaped muffin tin but standard muffin tin works fine too.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack Cakes
1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
strawberry jam (home-made or store bought)
Melt butter and peanut butter together in microwave or small pan and then cool slightly
Stir in milk and eggs
In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder
Add butter mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine but do not over mix
Fill each muffin cup part way, add a teaspoon of jam, and then add remaining batter covering the jam.
Bake for about 15 minutes until risen and golden brown
Serve warm or cool, plain or topped with berry frosting (below)
3 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
2 teaspoons milk
Many times over the years I have seen the question posted on garden mailing lists or asked at horticulture lectures; “Is mint easy to grow?” Veteran gardeners laugh at this and answer with some version of “easy to grow yes; easy to stop growing NO”. There is a corner of my garden that I have named “the land of ill-behaving plants”. This is where I sequester the mints, lemon balm, oregano, and others that hatch evil plans for garden world domination. Here in their little corner of the world they can stretch out runners and roots and spread all they wish. In the third year of this garden bed, I have sufficient mint to make Mojitos to sip on the patio for the entire summer and still have plenty for cooking , baking, and drying for winter.
This weekend I picked a bit of the tender mint tops, chopped them and tossed them into the vanilla biscuits recipe I use for strawberry shortcake. I was a luscious combination and I can’t wait for the strawberry season to begin!
Here is the recipe and I would love to hear any other ideas you have for using my abundance of mint.
Vanilla Mint Drop Biscuits
1 cup flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
finely chopped fresh mint
Heat oven to 425 degrees
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder in a bowl
Mix melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla in a measuring cup or small bowl
Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and stir to combine (do not over mix)
Gently stir in mint
Make six equal mounts of biscuit dough in a round ungreased cakepan and bake for 12-15 minutes until light golden on top and bottom of buscuits
I love Passover and all of the symbolism and stories and the special foods the holiday carries. Passover meant huge dinners with family and friends, somehow managing to squeeze in one or two more chairs for last-minute guests who could not bear to miss the fun. From the days of being the giggling children at the table impatient for the meal to begin; to teens snickering about wicked sons and stealing sips of wine; to joyfully watching the next generation hunt for the afikomen-Pesach has always filled my heart with delights.
Since I will eat matzoh anytime and consider it a treat, the main food of Passover is not a boring burden for me. For many however, anything that can help break the monotony is welcome. So when I saw that Cabot was making a Kosher for Passover cheddar, I knew that I needed to try to make a Passover acceptable version of my favorite sandwich, the humble grilled cheese. Since wine is a big part of the holiday celebration, I used it in my recipe but you can use apple juice for the kiddies if you wish.
Drunken Passover Grilled Cheese
Kosher for Passover cheddar cheese
Kosher for Passover Port or other sweet wine
Heat butter in a non-stick frying pan
Slice cheese into thin slices
Pour some wine into a shallow dish or plate
Dip two pieces of matzo in wine until wet through but not soaked & soft
Immediately, layer slices of cheese between matzo pieces
Cook in butter until cheese is melted and matzo is toasty (if you’ll pardon the expression during Pesach)
My friend Michelle who writes the blog Fun & Fearless in Beantown was pouting over the lack of poof in her otherwise quite tasty popovers. She is a fantastic cook and her food photos induce Pavlovian drooling at a glance but she was seeking some help with her puzzling popover problem. I am never one to let a friend feel deflated, so I am sharing my recipe for Cheddar Horseradish Popovers which has always yielded great results for me with no post oven letdown. It is the perfect brunch treat for a crowd since you can make several batches ahead of time and freeze them. Michelle and everyone; I hope you enjoy making these and that they rise to your high expectations!
Cheddar Horseradish Popovers
1 cup flour
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon grated horseradish (or more to taste)
Heat oven to 425
Butter a 6 cup popover pan or 8 cups of a standard muffin tin
Mix milk, eggs, butter, horseradish
Measure flour into a bowl w pour spout or large measuring cup
Add to wet ingredients to flour and mix just to combine
Stir in cheese gently
Fill cups of the pan 3/4 full
Bake for about 20 minutes until puffed
Turn over down to 350 and bake another 10 minutes
As soon as the popovers come out of the oven, poke them gently with a fork to release steam