Apple Dutch Baby: Special Occasion Breakfast Recipe!

A favorite family memory has been enjoying a giant apple pancake at The Original Pancake House in Birmingham, Michigan (after standing in the very long line).

My sister was trying to duplicate this years ago, before the internet. More recently, I’ve scoured the web and tried countless variations, finally concluding that this particular recipe comes pretty close to the pancake house recipe. Whew! I wasn’t sure how many more of these we could eat! (We really suffer for our art, ha…)

Popover Batter, Caramelized Apples & CinnamonA popover-type batter rises up as it bakes in the caramelizing apples. And it can be convenient to serve for company, since the batter can be prepared ahead of time.

Serves 3-4.

INGREDIENTS

  •     3/4 c. flour
  •     1/2 tsp. nutmeg (fresh-grated is nice)
  •     1/2 tsp. salt
  •     3/4 c. milk, room temperature
  •     4 eggs
  •     1/3 c. butter
  •     1/3 c. brown sugar
  •     1/3 c. sugar
  •     2 tsp. cinnamon

PREPARATION

1. Make batter the night before, if possible. (Or let it rest at least 10 minutes.) For the batter, whisk milk into the flour and salt in a bowl (small lumps are OK). Use: > 3/4 c. flour > 1/2 tsp. nutmeg > 1/2 tsp. salt > 3/4 c. milk

2. Add eggs one at a time: > 4 eggs

3. Refrigerate the batter overnight, or let rest (up to several hours) at room temperature.

4. The cinnamon and sugar can also be mixed together ahead of time. Use: > 2 tsp. cinnamon > 2/3 c. sugar

5. To prepare the pancake, bring batter out of refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

6. Peel, core, and slice the apples. Use: > 3 c. sliced, tart apples

7. Turn iron skillet* on medium high heat and add to the pan: > 1/3 c. butter > 3 c. sliced, tart apples > the cinnamon/sugar mix

8. Stir the butter, apples, and cinnamon sugar for 2-3 minutes, until apples have softened some and the mixture is bubbling.

9. Pour the pancake batter on top of the apple mixture.

10. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until lightly browned.

11. To serve, turn upside-down onto plate; sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar.

*If skillet isn’t available, use a Pyrex pan and heat the butter/apple/sugar mix in the oven for 10 minutes.

Castle Cake: Great Fun for a Boy’s Birthday!

This was a really fun cake to make for our grandson Benjamin’s fourth birthday. A picture’s worth a thousand words, right? So… you can use the picture below for ideas.

Castle Cake- Use Cones for TowersWe got the whole family involved. We scavenger-hunted at various stores for the supplies (mainly the frozen yogurt shop, and Trader Joe’s). Here are the goodies we used to pull this together:

  • We got this catapult on Amazon, which worked great with chocolate malt “cannon” balls
  • We got both kinds of cones from the yogurt shop- cake cones for the base, and pointy cones for the top
  • We were also able to get rock candy at the yogurt shop
  • We got Panda licorice at Trader Joe’s, to use for windows
  • We had some Trader Joe’s rosemary crackers on hand- a piece of that was perfect for the castle door
  • And graham cracker crumbs worked for the “dirt” pathway

I’ve since lost the sheet we did the math on, to have a larger square of cake for the foundation, plus the smaller squares of cake on top of that. But you can figure it out!

The non-baker (my husband) worked out the math with our older grandson, while the bakers (my granddaughter and myself) baked the cake. And everyone was able to help decorate! A memorable birthday. And birthday cake, haha…

PS We used a simple chocolate glaze for frosting. Warm the mix again after adding the chocolate chips to the melted butter, if necessary. Also, cool the frosting, if necessary, to get it to the right spreading consistency. Use: > 1/2 c. butter, melted > 1 c. chocolate chips (stirred in until melted)

Brazil Bark (For Fast, Healthy Smoothies)

If you scour the web for nutritional info on super foods and health and such, you may already know how cod liver oil is even more effective when mixed with grass-fed butter. You may have noticed that the quality supplier, Blue Ice, carries a product called “Royal Butter/Cod Liver Oil Blend“. (If you love scientific details, check out Sally Fallon’s article here.)

And you know me- always looking for ways to save time and money. Hence, “Brazil Bark”. I take my morning shot of cod liver oil, but also have a smoothie made with a hunk of this bark stuff. It looks like a confection, and it actually is pretty tasty. But also- so convenient!

Mix coconut spread, butter, and Brazil nuts- add chunks to smoothiesThis recipe makes making smoothies EASY. You can add your coconut and nut milk and that side o’ butter (if you’re taking cod liver oil), all in one easy step. The coconut (oil or spread) is for those great MCTs that contribute to brain health and energy. The butter is because it works so well with the cod liver oil we should be taking, to maximize results. And the Brazil nuts are good to include because they give us our daily selenium, which can be hard to come by.

Yes, you could just buy cartons of almond milk for your smoothies. But- larger carbon footprint! You pay for a lot of water and a little nut meat, plus the extra container. Why not just puree a few nuts fresh, right?

But is that box of almond milk so great? There’s also the fact that nuts contain a lot of PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats), which messes with our Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio. Yes, I know, “but they’re healthy for you, aren’t they?”

Well… we usually get assaulted with too many PUFAs in our modern diet. So this Brazil Bark stuff is actually more balancing to the system that almond milk and the like.

Just one more note: For smoothest results, puree a week’s worth of Brazil Bark with some boiling water in the blender. Process it, then store in a jar in the fridge; it will keep for a week or so. Add a hearty spoonful of it to all the other great smoothie ingredients, for some good, quick nutrition.

Brazil Bark

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. (or one 15-oz. jar) coconut butter (or “coconut manna“, coconut cream concentrate, or coconut spread, which are all 100% coconut meat, ground to a puree)
  • 1 lb. butter (grass-fed, like Kerry Gold. “Organic” is not necessarily grass-fed)
  • 1 lb. Brazil nuts

To get hardened coconut cream out of the jar, set the jar on a folded cloth in a small pot of hot water. Let it warm gently on low heat.

Mix the softened coconut butter with the butter in a small pot, until melted. Use: > 1 lb. butter, melted

Last, stir in: > 1 lb. Brazil nuts

Cover a cookie sheet with a piece of heavy-duty foil, making edges by crimping up sides. Pour mixture on foil; refrigerate overnight.

Next day, break bark into pieces and store in glass jar. (Or leave on the foil, to break up as needed.) Will keep a few months in refrigerator.

If desired, blend some with boiling water in the blender until smooth. Keep refrigerated, using in smoothies or hot drinks as needed. It makes “smoother smoothies” this way!

 

 

Chicken, Moroccan Style

When I was a newlywed, we didn’t just eat Sunday dinners at Tom’s folks’ house. We lived there! So we ate dinner with them most every night. I got to hone my cooking skills on the family, since most evenings, no one else was too keen on preparing anything. I had bookmarked all the Betty Crocker recipes I was planning to try, and most of the meals I made were well-received.

But my in-laws were classic meat-and-potato folks. So the first time I made an ethnic dish with raisins and green olives, Tom’s dad looked pretty alarmed. He was very polite, but I knew I had gone beyond his threshold for culinary adventure.

I’ll admit, Betty Crocker’s version of “ethnic” didn’t seem totally authentic. Years later, I’ve discovered a Moroccan recipe we really enjoy. It’s exotic. It’s different. It’s delicious!

Olives, Raisins, Toasted Almonds, Make Tasty Morrocan ChickenEnjoy the savory/sweet flavor combination of green olives, lemon peel, and raisins, with extra texture from the toasted, slivered almonds.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 free-range chicken
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 TBS. fresh rosemary
  • 2 TBS. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/2 c. green olives, pitted
  • 1/3 c. slivered, toasted almonds
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
  • 2 TBS. fresh mint, chopped

PREPARATION

A day ahead (or several hours earlier), prepare chicken by cutting whole fryer into pieces (or use 5 lbs. or so drumsticks, thighs, etc.). It helps to cut chicken breast pieces in half, as they will cook better that way.

Use potato peeler to get the peel off the lemons. Set aside several lemon peels to use later for garnish.

Prepare marinade. Add the following to a dish, to marinate chicken in: > Peel from 2 lemons (reserve some though) > juice of 2 lemons > 1 tsp. salt > 1 tsp. cinnamon > 4 bay leaves > 2 TBS. fresh rosemary > 2 TBS. olive oil

Coat the chicken pieces with the mixture and let marinate in refrigerator overnight, or at least several hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange marinated pieces of chicken in large pan for baking. Bake until done, about 25-35 minutes.

Set baked chicken aside to rest; deglaze pan by adding liquid: > 1/4 c. red wine or water

Add raisins and olives to pan, stirring on medium heat until heated through.

To serve, spoon pan juices over chicken, garnish with the chopped almonds, parsley, and mint.

Orange Kefir: Bubbly Sunshine

Our whole family’s into this stuff. It makes us happy–it tastes like orange soda SHOULD taste! And our guts are happy too. Here’s some secrets for making a great “natural orange soda”- delicious!

Grateful-Table-Kefir-Orange-SodaAdd this orange mix to the second ferment of kefir, when putting into bottles. It will add  more sweetener for the brew to feed on, to build up the carbon dioxide. (Ya know, AKA fizz!)

When I first started making “water kefir” a few years back, I was very enthusiastic. I juiced the plentiful Concord grapes I’d harvested that summer, and froze ice-cubes of the juice, to add to my brews. Ditto for the apples we got off our tree. Couldn’t eat that many apples as-is, but the juice turned the overabundance of fruit sugar into more probiotics. It was great!

For awhile, I was also into buying fresh ginger. I would cut it into match-stick sizes, rolling up portions in aluminum foil for the freezer, so I’d also have the makings on hand for Kefir Ginger Ale. If I wasn’t adding any other sweet thing, I found it best to bottle the “2nd ferment” kefir while it was still somewhat sweet, so some of that sweetness would feed the carbonation.For more ginger zip, I started juicing the fresh ginger, freezing ice-cubes of that potent, zesty juice, for future brews. That was an exciting drink!

As with many things, I started looking for an easier way out. I buy pomegranate juice when I can- it makes a wonderful addition to kefir or kombucha. And I like having organic black cherry concentrate and tart cherry concentrate on hand, since it keeps well. If nothing else, I’ll use that for flavoring and sweetening the 2nd ferment.

However! Orange seems to be kefir’s very favorite thing to feed on. So now I grab some nice organic oranges, processing the peel, and adding orange juice and sugar to it. I make a lot of this “orange concentrate” at a time, and it flavors many batches of kefir. I can make a bunch of the concentrate at a time, since it keeps about a month in the fridge. (Sometimes I freeze an extra jar of it too.)

Oh, by the way, kombucha just doesn’t like citrus. So keep this stuff for kefir. Happy brewing!

INGREDIENTS

  • Peel from 3 organic oranges
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • Juice from 3 oranges
  • 12 oz. frozen organic orange juice concentrate

PREPARATION

Process the peel from 3 oranges in a Vitamix or other blender, until fine. (Or, zest the old-fashioned way, by hand.) Use: > Peel from 3 oranges

Add the sugar, process again: > 3/4 c. sugar

Add the last two ingredients, mixing well: > Juice from 3 oranges > 12 oz. orange juice concentrate

Store in glass jar in fridge. Use about 1/2 c. or so per bottle.

Jun Kombucha, My Fave Probiotic Drink!

I’ve discovered a different kind of scoby that thrives on green tea and honey- a “Jun Scoby”. It’s been called the “champagne” of probiotic drinks. I have to agree! Now I’m now brewing this new kind of Kombucha—less sour than regular Kombucha, with a wonderful fizz and smooth flavor. And it’s still full of probiotics. Awesome. One caveat—it thrives in cooler weather. Perfect for me and our Bay Area weather. (Others might not have as great success in hotter weather…)

Use Green Tea & Honey in Jun KombuchaFirst, you need a scoby, or some Jun starter tea. I got my Jun scoby on Amazon, here.

There are many ideas on how to brew Jun Kombucha; apparently it turns out even with some variation of method. Some say it is best to make a very sweet brew for the first batch, using 4 tea bags and 2 c. honey to 3/4 gallon boiling water. That gets fermented 4 weeks, is discarded (“too sour”), and then one finally goes on to “regular brewing”.

Someone else says to let the tea brew 20 minutes or so.

But I don’t follow either of those directions! I just brew 4 tsp. loose green tea (I get this organic green tea on Amazon) for every 8 cups I’m making. I don’t add the full 8 c. of boiling water to the tea, since I like to add ice-cubes and/or water, to cool the brew off faster. And—I only brew it for two to five minutes.

Also: either raw or regular honey works, though I prefer raw, unfiltered, and organic (like this raw, unfiltered honey on Amazon, or Glory Bee Honey).

JUN KOMBUCHA

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tsp. loose green tea (or 4 bags)
  • 4 c. boiling water
  • 4 c. ice water (or ice)
  • 1/2 c. (.32 lb) honey (preferably raw, organic)
  • 1/2 c. starter tea (or about 10%)
  • Jun Scoby

PREPARATION

Pour boiling water over tea, steeping on a couple minutes. Use: > 4 tsp. loose green tea (gunpowder or regular green) > 4 c. boiling water

After steeping 2 minutes, remove bags. Mix honey in well: > 1/2 c. honey

Add enough ice (or ice water) to bring the water amount up to 8 c.

The sweetened tea should now be room temperature. Then it can be added to the starter tea in a continuous-brew jar, or just add 1/2 c. starter tea and the scoby to this new brew.

After 3 days or so, the tea should have fermented enough to put into bottles with ceramic stoppers. This will keep the carbonation in, as any remaining sugars are converted into soda-pop-style fizz. When bottling, add your choice of flavors- pomegranate juice, organic cherry juice concentrate, ginger, vanilla bean, almond extract… your choice!

 

 

Pistachio Gelato

Gelato had been a mystery to me- it seemed extra intense and creamy, so I assumed it must have more cream in it. Fact is, gelato is best made with more whole milk and less cream than regular ice cream. The fat in cream coats the tongue, which ends up muting the flavors (who knew?!). So, using less cream is the secret- that’s why gelato is so flavorful!

Long ago, I substituted almond extract for pistachio extract (pistachio extract does not seem to get rave reviews). The almond extract worked. Then again, I do like almond extract…

The other secret to gelato is to under-mix. Stop the machine before the mixture is fully churned, and you’ll get that classic dense gelato texture. YUM.

Easy Pistachio Gelato

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz. pistachios, shelled
  • 3 c. whole milk
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 c. cream
  • 1 tsp. almond extract

PREPARATION

Process pistachios until smooth. (The VitaMix dry grinder works great for this). Use: > 8 oz. (2 c.) pistachios

Heat milk and sugar to a light boil; remove from heat. Use: > 3 c. milk > 2/3 c. sugar

Stir egg yolks well. Use: > 5 egg yolks

Slowly add hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, stirring well. Return mixture to pan; heat slightly. (Don’t boil or egg yolks will curdle.)

Remove mixture from heat and stir in: > 1 c. cream > 1 tsp. almond extract

Add some of the mixture to the ground pistachios, mixing until smooth.Add the rest, mixing well. Cool mixture; add to ice cream machine according to instructions.

Marinated Mushrooms

This easy recipe can be multiplied, and can be used for meats too. The marinated mushrooms are delicious as is, or add to the grill for a real treat. We’ve been making batches of these mushrooms at the deli, for a pre-rush snack. So savory, so delicious…

Grateful-Table-Beef-London-Broil-Tri-Tip-w-Mushrooms.jpg

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. mushrooms
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. fresh chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. crushed Italian herbs (or other favorite)
  • 2 TBS. soy sauce
  • 2 TBS. balsamic vinegar

PREPARATION

Clean mushrooms, then add to plastic bag (or jar) with the oil, garlic, and herbs.

Use enough oil to coat the mushrooms. Let mushrooms sit 10 minutes or so to absorb the oil.  Last, add the soy sauce and vinegar. Eat raw/marinated, or add to the grill.

Barbeque Sauce, No HFCS

BBQ Sauce, No HFCS High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is on our naughty list. At The New Deli, we started making this version of BBQ sauce, made with tomato paste. Ketchup can be a handy base, but it also contains HFCS. We love this recipe! Makes 2 quarts.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 c. chopped onion
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. chili blend or powder
  • 1 TBS. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. white vinegar
  • 12 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/2 Tbs. “Liquid Smoke”
  • 1 c. water (or thin as desired)

PREPARATION

Sauté the following until soft in skillet: > 1/2 c. olive oil > 2 c. chopped onion > 3 cloves chopped garlic

When above is very soft, add the following, boiling 20 to 30 minutes: > 2 c. brown sugar > 1 c. Worcestershire sauce > 1/4 c. chili blend or powder > 3 c. white vinegar

To boiled mixture, stir in the following: > 12 oz. can tomato paste > 1/2 Tbs. “Liquid Smoke”

Put up into pint or quart jars.

Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread

If I’m going to make homemade sourdough bread using freshly ground whole wheat flour, I definitely need a system. Otherwise, I won’t have time for this! Below is the streamlined recipe I use every few days (when we’re getting low on our daily bread).

Sourdough Bread w/whole grainsConsidering that the vitamin E (and other nutrients) in wheat can go rancid so quickly, it just never seemed worth it to make bread with store-bought whole wheat flour. But I finally got a VitaMix blender, which grinds wheat berries into flour. At last, fresh-ground flour!

The other reason I hadn’t bothered with bread-making was that it didn’t seem particularly healthy. (You know, “Wheat Belly” and all that.) But a friend told me how she’d heard that some Celiac-sufferers could actually enjoy bread again, as long as it was sour-dough fermented. Guess it makes it easier to digest. That sold me on the idea.

A few years later, I’ve learned something else too. Hand-kneading seems to produce the best bread. I thought I could save time at one point, and I began using the dough hook and my KitchenAid to knead the bread. It did not turn out as good! I researched and found that the style of kneading does affect the bread. The molecules in hand-kneaded bread are actually shaped differently, while the machine-kneaded molecules are more stretched out. Not that the reason matters that much… just know that there doesn’t seem to be a short-cut to excellent whole wheat bread, without hand-kneading it.

I’ve also discovered that kneading bread on a wooden board (as directed in most recipes) makes for messy cleanup. Kneading the dough on a Formica counter top was an improvement, as the dough didn’t stick as much. I didn’t have to add as much extra flour to keep it from sticking to the counter, so the bread was moister.

But then I found the best method! I started kneading the bread in an 8-cup glass measuring cup, set on a towel (so it didn’t move around too much), in the sink. It was at a good height for throwing some hearty dough punches. So, it was easier clean-up, and I got a good work-out too.

Oh, one other thing I found out: Hard Red Winter Wheat (or hard red spring wheat) seems the best. I tried Hard White Wheat berries for a season, but the bread didn’t seem as good. After researching, I discovered- no wonder. White wheat might have a milder flavor, but it doesn’t have as much gluten. So the bread doesn’t rise quite as well. So- why not use the red wheat?! It does have an excellent flavor too, when fresh-ground. (Perhaps because it isn’t rancid!)

I still add a bit of “ancient grains” now and then- “Einkorn” is nice for variety. It won’t rise quite as well as the Red wheat though.

Experiment with any or all of the additions (raisins, caraway seeds, millet, palm sugar, walnuts and such). Adding extras will dictate a larger bread pan though—a cast iron skillet works well in that case. Makes one loaf (without additions), about 2 1/2 lb.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (scant) qt. sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 c. warm, filtered water (non-chlorinated is best for the yeasts)
  • 2 c. wheat berries, frozen (or 3 c. whole wheat flour) (about .88 lb.)
  • 1 c. more of wheat berries, frozen (or about 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour) (about .35 lb.)
  • 1 TBS. salt
  • Optional: 1 c. raisins, 1/2 c. millet, 1/3 c. sunflower seeds, 1 TBS. caraway seeds, cinnamon,   1 c. walnuts, and/or 1/4 c. palm sugar or honey

PREPARATION

In a medium bowl (or kitchen-aid bowl), add: > 1 scant quart of sourdough starter (about 3 1/2 c.)

Into the empty jar of sourdough starter, add water, shaking well. Then add that water to the sourdough starter in mixing bowl, mixing well: > 1 1/2 c. warm water (around 105 degrees is fine, or warm to the touch)

Grind flour in a VitaMix, KitchenAid (with attachment), or other mill. Use frozen wheat berries to keep the flour from getting too warm from grinding. Start with: > 2 c. frozen wheat berries (or 3 c. whole wheat flour)

Stir flour vigorously into the bowl of starter and water mixture, until smooth. Pour a scant quart of the mixture back into the sourdough starter jar, to refrigerate until next time.

To the remaining mixture in the bowl, add more flour, plus any optional grains or seeds. (The extra fermenting makes millet and seeds more digestible.). Use: > 1 scant c. more of frozen wheat berries, ground into flour (or use 1 1/2 or so whole wheat flour) > optional- millet, sunflower seeds, caraway seeds

Stir some of second batch of flour in, leaving some out if it’s too thick.The dough won’t be totally stiff, but it shouldn’t be so moist that it sticks to the hands, either. I usually gently hand-knead the second batch of flour in, until it’s mixed in.

Cover the dough bowl with a damp towel or with oiled plastic wrap. Let dough rise until doubled. This will take 4-6 hours in a cool kitchen, or quicker in a warm place.

After dough’s doubled in size, add salt and knead for 9 minutes or so. Optional items can be added, but will make a larger loaf (which will need a larger pan!).

Use coconut oil (or butter) to oil a loaf pan or skillet. Shape the dough into a loaf, rolling it in some organic corn flour or other favorite, to coat the outside. Set in well-oiled pan.

Let rise another few hours, until doubled again. Bake in a preheated, 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes per loaf (or in skillet). For larger loaves, when goodies like raisins, millet and such have been added, let bake 40-50 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool on a rack.