Sunday, May 27, 2012

Raspberry Muffins

These could be made with any berry, or even rhubarb. They yield a tender, moist muffin with medium sweetness and a tender crumb. I used raspberries and blackberries for the ones in the picture. Instead of lemon and vanilla you could go with a cinnamon spice approach instead, and add a streusel topping.

1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
3/4 c. buttermilk + 1/4 c. heavy cream
OR 1 c. sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Meyer lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2-2 c. berries or rhubarb cut into 1/4" pieces

Preheat oven to 375. Place 12 paper liners into a muffin tray. Spray the top surface with non-cook spray for easy muffin removal.

Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Mix together the buttermilk, cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Mix into the butter and sugar mixture until well combined. Stir together the flour, 1/2 c. granulated sugar, and baking soda. Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just barely combined. Gently fold in the fruit.

Distribute equal amounts into each muffin cup. Sprinkle the top surface with sparkle sugar or other topping (ie streusel), if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and set in the middle. Allow to cool in the muffin tray. Enjoy with tea or coffee!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Date Bread

I baked this bread for a family brunch (to go with a frittata and fruit salad). It was a great success. I got the original recipe from Judy Kivi's book, Myths and Recipes of the Last Frontier: Alaska.


  • 1 pound chopped dates
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons shortening (I prefer coconut oil)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Sprinkle soda over dates and add boiling water. Let stand.
  2. In separate bowl, use mixer to cream shortening, sugar, and eggs.
  3. Alternate mixing in flour and salt and date mixture.
  4. Add nuts and vanilla.
  5. Bake in 2 loaf tins for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spam Sushi (Musubi)

I take great delight in convincing people they like foods they thought they hated. Spam is one of them. I re-examined this ingredient after a trip to the Spam Museum in Albert Lea, which led me to stumble across this recipe. It is also known as spam musubi, and it is native to Hawaii, where the US military bases introduced the locals to the 'wonders' of canned luncheon meat. Since each musubi is made with a cross-section of the whole Spam loaf, they make for a very filling appetizer. You can either season the rice as for sushi or leave it plain. These are a real crowd-pleaser and I've had a number of requests to bring these to parties.

1 can Spam
2 Tbsp. oil
1/3 c. terriyaki sauce
2 sheets nori, cut into 1.5" strips
1-2 qt cooked sushi rice (season with rice vinegar, salt, and sugar if desired)

Remove the Spam from the tin--this may take some vigorous shaking. Slice into 1/4" pieces. Brush the pieces with terriyaki sauce. Fry lightly in a small amount of oil in a large non-stick pan, to crisp up the pieces a bit.

Form the rice into Spam-slice sized ovals. Make sure the rice is packed tightly enough to hold together, but not so tight it's like a rock. It helps to wet your hands with cold water. Place a slice of Spam on the rice and carefully wrap the nori around it so that the open side is down. Wet the edge with water to seal. It will take some practice to get good at this.

Serve with Sriracha sauce and a sense of humor :)

Merguez Sausage Tajine

I've been finding Moroccan style sausage at many different meat shops lately. This was made with goat merguez sausage from Clancey's, which had really good flavor. I used a spice blend, but I'm sure you could use fresh spices and add some more ingredients (like dried fruit), but it turned out tasty when made this simple way.

4 links Merguez sausage, sliced
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
2 carrots, in large chunks
2 c. small cauliflower florets
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 Tbsp. Moroccan spice blend (ras al-hanout)
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
1 can chickpeas
1.5 c. chicken broth
6 Tbsp. butter

Use a heavy bottomed pot to heat 4 Tbsp. of butter. Add the onions and saute until soft and starting to caramelize. Add the sausage and cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes until the liquid cooks off and everything starts to sizzle. Add the tomato paste and stir so it is well distributed. Stir in the spice blend and ginger. Add the carrots and 1 c. chicken broth and cover, simmering for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, use the remaining butter to pan roast the cauliflower. It should not be cooked through, but the edges should be browned.

Alex tells me that the secret to Moroccan cuisine is mixing fresh parsley and cilantro. You could add that at the end (although I didn't and it was still delicious).

Add in the chickpeas and cauliflower, and if it needs more moisture, the remaining broth. Simmer for 10 more minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Salt to taste. Serve with couscous tossed with even more butter. I used seasoned butter on the couscous (caramelized onions and thyme), which made it even better. I recommend the medium grained couscous that's available at Holy Land (and not the fine grained style they sell at the co-op).

Strawberry Shortcake

After a recent visit to North Carolina, where strawberries are already ripe, I was inspired to make this simple but wonderful dessert. Makes six.

1 pint strawberries
1 c. heavy whipping cream, divided
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sugar, divided
3/4 c. flour
1 egg
3 Tbsp. cold butter
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the strawberries into a bowl and sprinkle with2-3 Tbsp. sugar. Add a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon, if you have it. Allow to rest for an hour. Use a fork to crush some of the strawberries.

Sift the flour together with the baking powder and salt. Stir in 3 Tbsp. of sugar. Cut the butter in with a fork until it is the size of small peas. Whisk the egg in a cup and reserve a couple spoonfuls of it for later. Add 1/4 c. of whipping cream to the cup and stir. Pour into the flour mixture and mix until the dough comes together. Turn onto a flour board and cut into circles or squares. Brush the remaining egg on the cakes and then sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake for ~10 minutes until lightly browned. Cool.

Whip the remaining cream together with vanilla. Add in sugar to taste until it forms soft peaks.

Carefully slice the cakes in half. Spread whipping cream on lower half. Spoon lots of strawberries on top. Dollop more whipping cream over strawberries and cover with top half of cake. Enjoy!

"Soylent Green" or Involtini with White Beans & Greens

We made these for a "fictional food" themed party. This makes 10, so you may want to scale it down. Thank you to Clancey's meats for accommodating my cutlet request. The rest I based on Roman flavors and the goal of making everything as green as possible. They turned out delicious and I didn't even get punched in the face by Charlton Heston!

10 pork or veal cutlets
2 leeks
1 head escarole or other leafy green
1 can white beans, drained
1/2 c. frozen green peas
1 handful fresh parsley
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
1/4 c. shredded Romano cheese
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1-2 Tbsp. verjus or white wine vinegar
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Sprinkle the cutlets with salt and pepper and keep them cold in the refrigerator. Overall the rolls are easier to handle if they are kept cold.

Cut the leaks lengthwise and wash each leaf under running water to remove grit. Chop coarsely. Wash the escarole and parsley and chop coarsely. Defrost the peas.

Saute the leeks until softened (I used bacon fat for extra flavor). Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant.

Chop the greens and peas coarsely in a food processor. Add in the cooked leeks. Add the white beans and pulse in the cumin seeds. Season with the Romano cheese, fish sauce, verjus, and salt and pepper. Keep the texture somewhat chunky.

Spread the filling on the cutlets and roll up. Secure them with toothpicks (or just cook very carefully, starting with the seam side down). Heat cooking oil in two very large pans and place the rolls in the pans so they are not crowded. Cook gently so that they brown on the outside and the meat cooks thoroughly.

I had filling leftover, so I sauteed the remainder for a couple minutes and then spooned it on top.

Spoiler alert!

Chive Pesto

If your chive plant is anything like mine, you need to hack it back so it doesn't compete with the rest of the herb garden. Also, it's going to be months before we have an abundance of basil, so here's a yummy spring pesto!

1 large handful of chives
1 medium handful of parsley
1 small handful of oregano, mint, or other fresh herbs
4 cloves garlic
1/4 c. blanched almonds or pine nuts

1/4 c. olive oil
2 tsp. black pepper
2-3 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Wash all herbs thoroughly and remove the thickest stems. Use kitchen scissors to cut them into manageable pieces.

Lightly toast the nuts in a dry pan. Remove the nuts and then lightly toast the whole garlic cloves to remove some of their pungency.

When the nuts are cool, add them to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the herbs a small handful at a time until well chopped. Add the black pepper and salt and pulse. With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is bright green and well combined. Add the cheese and pulse a few times. Taste the pesto and adjust the seasonings and oil as needed, but take care not to over-chop (which can cause the cheese to melt).

Place the finished pesto in small containers with a layer of oil on top to prevent browning. Can also be placed in ice cubes and frozen (place frozen cubes in a baggie) for individual use.

I don't know why this is rotated 90 degrees CW
Chive pesto on gnocchi with Italian sausage and radish microgreens (aka thinning the seedlings)
 Delicious tossed on cooked pasta, Gnocchi, potatoes in Pesto and Sausage Desperation Deliciousness, stirred into Minestrone, on salads, or (my favorite) as a spread for fried egg sandwiches.