Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Raspberry Streusel Muffins

These muffins will rock your world.  The recipe is originally from one of the many gifted cooks in my hometown church in southern MN.  The recipe itself was published in our church cookbook which is a treasure trove of the tasty recipes I grew up eating at potlucks and at home.

I'm not sure you can get that cookbook anywhere anymore but if someone would like one, I can try to check on their availability.

1/2 C butter
1/2 C sugar
1 egg
1 C sour cream
1/2 C milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 C fresh or frozen raspberries

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg.  In a small bowl, mix sour cream, milk, and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients.  Stir into creamed mixture, alternated with sour cream mixture until just moistened.  Gently fold in raspberries.  Batter will be thick.  Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups almost full.

Streusel Mix for Top of Muffins
1/4 C all purpose flour
1/4 c quick cook oats
3 T sugar
1/4 tsp grnd cinnamon
1/3 tsp salt
3 T cold butter
Confectioner’s sugar

Combine flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Mix well.  Cut in the butter until crumbly.  Sprinkle over muffins.  

Bake at 400 for 20-26 minutes or until top is lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 min.  Remove to wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar.  Yield 1 doz.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sprout Doubt

Last spring, I attempted to sprout seeds at home.  Caught up in the romance of nutrition-rich home-grown vegetables, I imagined myself like some pioneerswoman, supplementing our winter diet with a steady rotation of different sprouts.

For my first attempt, I tried mustard seed, brown rice, and black-eyed peas.  The mustard seed never did anything but sit sadly in its jar.  The rice and peas both sprouted - the beans quite nicely.  

In order to sprout seeds, they need to be soaked for several hours.  Then, they need to be kept moist but clean for several days.  This requires rinsing them a couple times a day to prevent spoilage.  It was the required regular rinsing that spurred disaster.  Running late one morning, I didn't have time to rinse my sprouts before school... and really, I thought they'd be fine.  By the time I got home, however, they had gone bad.  Ugh, the smell.

Seeds vary in how long they take to sprout as well as how often they need to be rinsed.  I used the Rodale's Basic Natural Foods Cookbook as a reference.  This cookbook is one of my favorite procedural books for handling raw foods.  It also has a lot of excellent recipes (although for my tastes many of them are under-salted).  This was also the book that taught me how to can foods as a teenager and so my copy is tie-dyed with various berry, tomato, and vegetable juices.  

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Qualities of Quiche

As a girl, I got the impression that quiche had some mystical properties that allowed only the most skilled and determined cooks to master it.  Like so many other childhood impressions, this turned out to be entirely not true.

Below, I've written out a recipe for quiche crust that I selected after several blind taste tests with friends who are all too willing to serve as ginny pigs.  This crust is simple, fast to make, and will yield consistent results. It is slightly thicker and more dense than a number of crusts that we tried (not nearly as flaky as a desert pie crust) but that seems to stand up better to the stronger flavors of a quiche.

Crust (for 1 shell)   *adapted from Rene Verdon's 1968 The White House Chef Cookbook.*
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 C cold water

Place flour, butter, and salt into a bowl and work together with hands until smooth. Add eggs and water and work with hands until of rolling consistency.

Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/4 to 1/8 inches thick.  Carefully transfer crust to a  9-inch pan and crimp edges. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Filling (1 quiche)  *from my Aunt Jean*
Below I've written a standard quiche filling.  If you want a denser custard, add more eggs.  You can also add lots of other filling ingredients.  (see below)

1/2 C grated cheese (swiss, mozzarella, cheddar, whatever you like)
1 C lightly browned diced onions
3 eggs blended with enough cream to make 1 1/2 C liquid
pepper & salt to taste
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Put the cheese and onion (and other ingredients) in the bottom of the pie shell.  Pour the egg mixture over everything and agitate gently to make sure the egg is evenly spread.

Bake 30-45 minutes at 375 until the center puffs.  If all the ingredients are cold, it may take longer.  

You can add any set of ingredients you want to a quiche, just don't overfill the crust.  You will need to cook most ingredients first.  I suggest frying up the individual ingredients in a little frying pan and setting them aside.  You can do this (and make the crust) the night before serving.  If you're frying a lot of little ingredients, be careful about the total amount of grease you add to the quiche.  Too much extra fat will make the custard oily and heavy.
Some suggested additional ingredients:
fresh herbs: any to your taste, basil, chives, oregano, etc.
veggies: mushrooms, spinach, brocolli, greens, eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower
meat: bacon, sausage, turkey sausage, ham, shrimp
cheese & cream: feta, gouda, any stronger flavored cheese of choice, sour cream, non-sweet yogurt
    (Note: By adjusting the cream or cheese, you may alter the
     consistency of custard.  Just be aware of this when you're
     playing around with the recipe, try to adjust other
     ingredients to compensate, and watch what happens.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Avocado, Shrimp & Mango Salad

This simple but sophisticated salad requires some prep but comes together quickly.  Enjoy with a crisp white wine for a light refreshing afternoon meal.

Fresh greens, washed ~ 2/3 Gallon in volume
1 or 2 fresh mangoes
2 medium tomatoes
1 lb. raw medium shrimp
1/3 C mayo
1 Tbsp horseradish
1/8 C lime juice
1 avocado
1 tsp each of salt, sugar, fresh ground black pepper

Dice the tomato and mango. 
Poach the shrimp in quickly simmering salted water for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until just done.  Drain the shrimp and rinse under cold water to avoid tough shrimp. (Note: You can also add flavoring to the poaching liquid, e.g. a quartered lemon, cayenne pepper, shrimp boil powder, whatever you like) 
Mix the mayo, horseradish, lime juice, salt, sugar and pepper in a small dish.  Toss greens, mango,  tomato, shrimp and dressing together in a large bowl.  Plate and garnish top with fanned avocado half.
Makes 2 large salads or 3-4 small salads.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Last Summer's Gardens

Food and gardening are (or at least should be) intimately intertwined activities.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a ton of pictures last year, but here are a few from early summer.

As well as a couple pictures from various harvests.

Hurry Spring! Hurry!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Passing round blueberry pie

I have been meaning to share my Aunt Jean's blueberry pie recipe for a while now and I think its fitting to begin re-posting with this dish.

It always feels presumptuous to share other people's recipes.  I suppose in part because it doesn't feel like its mine to give.  Even more, though, I think its because I have relationships with these dishes and the people with whom I've shared them.

This pie recipe is a gem, as my grandmother would have said.  It has rescued the grumbling bellies of many an all-night game session, become the dessert for surprise guests, and served as a backup for a botched potluck dish that got a little too creative.  Its a quick prep pat in crust that you can use with almost any berry combinations.  I often keep frozen berries around and, therefore, can always whip this up if necessary at a moments notice.

2 C flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2/3 C oil (something with mild flavor is best)
3 Tbsp milk

Pie Filling:
4 C fresh blueberries (or 2 pkgs. frozen)
1 C sugar
1/4 C flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp butter

Mix ingredients for crust.  
Pat all but 1 cup into the bottom and sides of a 9-10" pie pan to form an even crust.  
Mix berries and dry ingredients for filling.  
Pour into crust.  Dot with butter. 
Sprinkle the reserved 1 cup of crust over the top and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes until it bubbles in the middle.
Allow to cool and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Its officially been over a year since I last posted on this blog and, frankly, my posting had been sporadic at best for a couple years before that.  I could generate all kinds of reasons to explain my negligent behavior, but I suppose this post's heading is as fair a rationale as any.  

On the bright side, we finally have internet at our home.  For three years I've survived without internet by writing lists of emails to send, articles to look up, searches to make.  I've huddled in the snow to find wifi points near my house and tried to cram in every spare internet chore I could between tasks at school. and thank god for the public library.

I know.  It was stupid.

But it was cheeper.  And it was quieter.  
Just also terribly, horribly, cripplingly inconvenient.

In conclusion,  I promise two things: 
1) there will be another post 
2) it will be about food