September 12, 2015

Pickled Zucchini Spears

Pickled Zucchini Spears  

This recipe from Sherry Vinson's Put 'em Up! makes about 6 pints.

4 pounds small zucchini or summer squash
1 large onion (chopped)
½ Cup salt
4 garlic cloves (halved or chopped rough)
4 Cups white vinegar
½ Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Optional crumbled bay leaf

Prepare your vegetables: Cut the zucchini (or squash) into spears an in shorter than your jars and then toss it in a largebowl with the salt. Cover with cold water and let sit two hours. Drain. Rinse.  Drain again. Then pack the squash mixture into clean hot pint jars and divide the garlic among them.

Prepare your brine: Bring the vinegar, sugar, and spices to a boil in a large nonreactive saucepan. Pour the hot bring over the vegetables (waiting in your jars) to cover by ½ inch and leave ½ inch of headspace.

Process: Use the hot water bath method. Release trapped air. Wipe jar rims clean. Put on lids. Process in hot water bath with 30 minutes at full rolling boil. Turn off heat. Let sit 5 minutes. Then remove to sit on the counter for 24 hours. Check seals and store for up to a year.  
These flavorful pickles won first prize at the Alaska State Fair!

July 2, 2014

Yellow Cake

This is based on the Yogurt Bismark Cake in Bakin' Without Eggs. It makes a simple yellow cake that is sturdy enough to transport individual slices for afternoon snack.

Yellow Cake

Preheat oven to 350. Get a stick of butter out of the fridge to warm to room temperature.
Grease and lightly flour a loaf pan. 

With a hand mixer cream together in a large bowl:
1/4 C butter (room temperature)
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 Cup yogurt (plain or vanilla is fine)

Beat in 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract (I don't measure, I just pour a splash in)

Sieve into a smaller bowl:
1 and 2/3 Cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Add the dry to the wet in two installments and beat until smooth and creamy (a couple minutes).

Put batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool in the pan 20 minutes or so and then turn out onto a plate to continue cooling.

For more depth of flavor add a bit of cinnamon to the dry ingredients. 
Alternatively, substitute another extract for some of the vanilla.
This cake is too light to carry heavy mix-ins, but would support a little bit of citrus zest.

April 23, 2014

More eggnots

We ordered another dozen eggnots this year and dyed them with lovely results. We save them from year to year, so in addition to dyeing our new dozen, we also were also able to re-dye to a deeper color some that we had dyed pastel in prior years. 

Dyeing eggnots     Easter 2014

For these richer colors we again used basic liquid food coloring from the supermarket, including some from both the standard red, blue, green and yellow package and some from a package of "neon" dye. We used more vinegar and less water than in prior years. We let them sit in the dye bath for several minutes, as recommended on the eggnots packaging. To compare, here's a link to our results from a previous year.

March 6, 2014

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

This vinaigrette is a nice way to dress up simply prepared whole grains like wheat berries and is easy to make with ingredients we generally have on hand in the fridge and cupboards.

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

Combine the ingredients in a small mason jar, shake and serve. Stash the jar in your fridge to store leftovers and shake before each use.

1/3 Cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of pepper
1/2 teaspoon rosemary (dried or fresh)

Variations: The original recipe called for 1/8 teaspoon salt, which I omit. 
Using honey instead of syrup will produce a thicker sweeter dressing with more body.

January 2, 2014

Soda Bread

Although I bake regularly, I never used to bake soda bread. It wasn't that familiar to me and I suspected that it must be complicated.  I was wrong.  

Soda bread is not at all complicated. It won't even require a trip to grocery store if you have a jar of buttermilk lurking in your fridge (which I always do now that I have realized how easy it is to culture buttermilk). The taste is quite familiar, somewhat like buttermilk biscuits, with less fat. 

I like this recipe because I always have these four ingredients handy and it produces a hearty, tasty quick bread that works well as a sturdy side for savory soups or as support for sweets like jam.

Basic Soda Bread

2 cups flour
pinch salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk

How to:

Preheat oven to 375 and oil a loaf pan.
Stir the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. 
Add buttermilk and mix into a soft dough.
Transfer to loaf pan and cook in the center of your oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
Turn out onto a wire rack or plate to cool.

Notes and variations:

There are lots of soda bread recipes and variations, including double-sized recipes cooked in cake pans or on parchment on a cookie sheet for a round loaf and mixing up the ingredients with whole wheat flour, rye, raisins or currants, caraway seeds, butter, wheat germ, brown sugar, other sweeteners, eggs, sour cream instead of butter milk, etc. 

I have made round loaves on parchment by doubling the recipe, kneading the dough briefly to get it into a smooth ball, and then once the ball is on the parchment doing a few quick slits into the top, brushing with a little extra buttermilk and baking at 400 to get a very nice crust.

What all of these recipes seem to have in common is something close to a ratio of 2:1 dry to thick wet ingredient and a teaspoon of baking soda for every 2 Cups of flour. 

So my advice is to feel free to freestyle different flours, or sour cream instead of buttermilk, etc. but try to preserve those basic ratios.

December 26, 2013

Pound Cake

This variation on the Butter Pound Cake recipe in Bakin' Without Eggs has a wonderful texture.

Pound Cake

1 Cup butter (room temperature)
2 Cups sugar
1 1/2 Cups buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/4 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
handful of mini chocolate chips (optional)

How to:
Preheat oven to 325 and prepare a Bundt cake pan. 
Cream the butter and sugar. 
Beat in the buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla.
Sift in the flour, leavening and cinnamon. 
Beat until completely smooth.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Bake for 55 to 65 minutes.
Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes or so and then turn out onto plate.

Notes and variations:
I added the cinnamon and chocolate to jazz up the original recipe. I use the Enjoy Life brand chips which are small enough to not sink too much in the dough. Other mini chips would work equally well. 
For more classic pound cake flavor, scrape in a vanilla bean instead of cinnamon and chocolate. 
For more zing, use ginger instead of cinnamon and small chunks of crystallized ginger instead of chocolate 
Citrus zest, lemon or orange or both, would also be a nice variation.

November 28, 2013

Eggless Pumpkin Pie

Eggless Pumpkin Pie

This originates from a recipe on, which I am not linking to because it didn't work very well for me. After repeatedly baking and tweaking the liquid and starch ratios in this pie, we are now pretty happy with the results. 

Start by stashing a pie pan in your freezer to get it nice and cold. 

Make a single-crust pie crust from any basic recipe. I typically use my food processor and make half of the basic crust recipe from Joy of Cooking, using 1 Cup flour, 1/3 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon of butter for the fat, 2 Tablespoons of liquid plus just a little more if necessary. I use whatever neutral or fruity hard alcohol we have handy in lieu of water (which makes for a more tender crust). Or use the Pillsbury premade dough if that's your pleasure. Chill the dough a little if you are making your own crust. Roll it out. Put it in your pie pan and pretty up the edges. 

Then stash the pie pan with raw crust in your fridge and preheat your oven to 450 degrees while you make the filling.

1 can pumpkin puree (15 or 16 ounces)
1 tsp cinnamon *
5 Tablespoons corn starch
1 1/2 Cup milk
2/3 Cup brown sugar

Add cinnamon and corn starch to the pumpkin. Stir in the brown sugar. Stir in the milk. 
Bake in an unbaked shell. 
Start for 10 minutes in a 450 degree oven. 
Then reduce to 350 for an additional 1 hour. 
Check it and it may need 5 minutes more. 
Mine often does.

For flaky tender crust, keeping the dough cold at every step is important. As is starting with a hot oven. If your oven isn't fully up to temperature by the time you have the filling prepared and in the crust, you can stash the unbaked pie (filling and all) in the fridge until the oven is hot enough.

Flavor options: 
If you aren't a cinnamon hound like me, you can use just 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
For more complex flavor, use your favorite "pie spice" blend instead.

Or if you don't have that handy, wing it with any or all these additions:
Scrape in a vanilla bean with the sugar or a splash of vanilla extract with the milk. 
Grate in a little bit of nutmeg.
Add just a little ginger or a very small pinch of cloves. 
Add a bit of zest from a lemon or orange. called for 1/2 tsp lemon extract. I never buy that. So I omit or add zest from fresh fruit instead. 

Combinations work nicely. For example, making pie Thanksgiving dinner tonight, I made the crust using orange cordial as the liquid. With the filling I used the full dose of cinnamon, a vanilla bean, just bit of nutmeg, and a the zest from one mandarin orange.

Making it vegan: You can use other liquids instead of milk to make the filling vegan. 
And shortening or coconut oil can be used to make vegan crusts.