Saturday, December 31, 2011
I wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year before the clock strikes midnight on the East Coast. We still have a few hours before we even head over to the neighbors house to celebrate. Our eggs will definitely be more dressed up than we are, but that is the way things are here in Fairbanks. Wishing you all a safe an Happy New Year's Eve wherever you are!
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
It also makes me appreciate the abundance we have here. I spend most of my year complaining about the lack of good food. The truth of the matter is if you can't find good food in Fairbanks, you aren't looking in the right places (hint: if you have to leave a tip, you are in the wrong place). Everyone I know is an amazing cook, sometimes I feel silly that I am the one with the food blog. There is so much to learn.
This morning I was ready to move past the crunching of candy canes and make something a little more simple. I didn't want to get out the food processor or the stand mixer. Just me a bowl, a wooden spoon, and some local ingredients. I was ready to start learning about barley flour. We now have locally grown and milled barley flour here in Alaska. I have never baked with barley flour before and I could hardly wait to give it a try. Whole grain flours get a bad rap for creating dense and dry baked goods. Barley flour isn't like that at all, in fact it turns out a lighter product than all-purpose flour. It is almost comparable to cake flour, with a slightly nutty taste. These muffins were light and moist and best of all quick and easy to make. Although I love most baked goods straight out of the oven, I felt these were even better after they sat for a while. This makes them great for a brunch buffet. I love that they contain local honey and barley flour. This is a good place to start if you are like me and have never tried barley flour before. You see, we all have a lot to learn!
Friday, December 23, 2011
Many years ago my Mom and I went out to eat at a restaurant back home in Michigan. It was a place known for having a wide selection of really good desserts. I don't remember much about the dinner menu, but I do remember their grasshopper and mud pies. I believe it was during the summer when my Mom decided to order warm gingerbread cake with whip cream topping for dessert. I thought it was an odd offering for the summer and wondered how much they were selling during that time of year. Would it even be fresh? The waitress promptly brought my Mom her dessert. It was drowning in whip cream. Then my Mom took a bite and her face turned to a very confused expression. "I think this might be meatloaf", she said. It was the "this might be" part of the sentence that threw me off and I didn't totally believe it. I mean, how could it be meatloaf? Either it is gingerbread, or it is meatloaf, how could it "might be" meatloaf? My mom encouraged me to take a bite, but if it really was meatloaf smothered in whip cream, well I didn't want any part of it. So, we sat and stared at it for a while. The whip cream began to melt, finally I agreed to smell it. One whiff and there was no question that my Mom had been served meatloaf with whip cream for dessert. The waitress was really embarrassed when we told her she served up meatloaf for dessert. Turns out the restaurant kept the meatloaf and the gingerbread cut in similar sized cubes right next to each other in the freezer. She just happened to grab the wrong one, placed it in the microwave and served it up as dessert. So, now anytime someone mentions meatloaf, we have to ask if it was served with whip cream. I don't really remember what happened after the waitress took the meatloaf away. I do know we laughed until we had tears in our eyes, but I don't remember actually ever eating the gingerbread. So, I went in search of a recipe for what that gingerbread should have been like had it actually been gingerbread. This one from Nigella Lawson is exactly what I imagined warm gingerbread cake with whip cream should taste like...when it is not meatloaf!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I'm so glad I finally made them this year and am sure they will now make it on the annual Christmas cookie list.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
There is another reason I scan the index looking at ingredients. It is to see if the author and I have similar tastes. There are some foods that people either love or hate and I am aware that coconut is one of them. I personally am a coconut lover. When I say that there were no less than seven recipes with coconut in Melissa Clark's new cookbook there was no longer any doubt this was a cookbook I had to have. I played around quite a bit with the technique on this recipe. I wanted an eggnog that had some texture and was served cold, not room temperature as in the original. If you are used to store bought egg nog, this one is going to be pretty light. It reminds me of a coconut drink I once had in Mexico with rum. Please feel free to adapt this with your favorite kind of alcohol, or none at all if that's what you like. Also, please note this recipe does contain raw eggs, so it's a good idea to know where your eggs are coming from. You can also use pasteurized eggs if you prefer. Happy Holidays and Cheers!
Monday, December 12, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
These little cookies would be great packaged up as a holiday gift or hostess treat, a great little bite with a morning cup of coffee. Yes, you can have cookies for breakfast.
I simplified this recipe from the original making the entire dough in the food processor, I just caution you not to go crazy and over mix the dough. This method really cuts down on the number of dishes you use, but if you prefer you can remove the flour and cranberry mixture from the food processor and make the rest of the dough by hand to avoid over mixing.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
In their nut form, I have always called these cookies Mexican Wedding Cookies. Last week, Not So Humble Pie posted Peppermint Tea Cookies. What a great idea, and I wondered if I could just adapt my recipe that I already love? Somewhere in the middle of my research I found that another name for these cookies is snowball. Candy Cane Snowballs sounded quite festive. This is another one of those holiday recipes that would be great for a cookie exchange or bakesale. I made them quite large as I didn't have any plans for them, but you could easily make them half the size (baking time will be shorter) and get quite a few more cookies out of each batch. I'm not sure they will replace Mexican Wedding cookies, but they would be a great addition to them on a holiday cookie plate. Also great for those who love delicate tea cookies, but can't have nuts in their diet.
This recipe calls for chopping candy canes in a food processor and then sifting out the powder from the candy cane chunks. Make sure you reserve the powder to sprinkle on top of the cookies. In the past I have purposely made a batch of candy cane powder to stir into hot chocolate during the holiday season. It also makes a great gift layered in a canning jar with hot chocolate. This recipe will leave you with at least 1/2 cup extra candy cane powder. I know you can find other great uses for it during the holidays.