Crack Pie

February 1, 2015

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I’m so excited! Tomorrow my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if perhaps Spring is one the way. Groundhog Day is nigh! The chances that he will see his shadow tomorrow in Pennsylvania, thus heralding the arrival of Spring, are not favourable. There is a big snow event happening up in that neck of the woods today and tomorrow. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what he has to say. Phil has been correct in his prognostications for the past two winters!

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One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only folks celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 4th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Four years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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I had been blogging for a little while at that point, but not about food. I originally started this blog as a way to get information out to folks who were planning to travel to Ireland to attend our wedding. I found out that I actually liked to blog and then it eventually morphed into the more food centric version that you see today. It was difficult to choose which recipe I wanted to share with you for this anniversary edition, but I ultimately decided that it just had to be Crack Pie. Maybe because I must be on crack to continue trying to publish 2 times a week and for 17 days straight St. Patrick’s Day blogapolooza starting March 1st… But also because Crack Pie is definitely one of those special occasion kind of desserts.

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So I imagine you might be wondering, possibly with some trepidation, what is Crack Pie? Crack is definitely one of those words that just jumps out at you when you come across it huh? I remember one such occasion back when I was in college in Ireland. I hadn’t been there very long and was hanging out with some new-found friends in a local pub. One fellow was trying to convince me to come along with him to a house party nearby. When I hesitated a bit, he said “Ah come on, you should. They’ll be great crack there.” Uhhhh…excuse me?!! Well that is what I heard anyway. I soon learned (but not soon enough to attend said party) that I had misheard him. What he actually said was not “crack” but “craic” Irish for good times or fun, but unfortunately pronounced exactly the same way…. Kind of changes your whole imagery of the party huh? But wait, back to that pie….really? You haven’t heard of Crack Pie?!!

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Come on! That particular confection has a cult following! Crack Pie, invented by Chef Christina Tosi, is one of the top-selling treats at the famous Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC. And when I say top-selling, just listen to this. a whole pie sells for $44. They sell 60 -90 Crack Pies every day or two! Hmmm…sounds like quite a few folks have developed a bit of a habit. Yup….if you like sweet…no wait a second….SWEET desserts, this rich, salty/sweet pie is insanely addictive! And I’m sure at this point you just want me to tell you what it is. Well, you can read the list of ingredients below, but that doesn’t really help and describing the taste is difficult. In consistency, it is like a Chess Pie or like a pecan pie, without the pecans, but the flavour is unique. The crust is made from crumbled oatmeal cookie

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and the filling is gooey, buttery, bliss that tastes somewhat reminiscent of  that Corn Pop cereal you used to eat as a kid. Remember this stuff?!!

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This is due to a secret, well not so secret, ingredient. Strangely adaptations of the recipe often leave it out. But more on this later.

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Now the version of Crack Pie that I have here is from Christina Tosi herself.  I felt it was important to make it as closely as I could to the real deal Crack Pie. I will say this does present a couple of challenges. The first is that her recipe, unlike some other versions which have been adapted, is for two pies. That meant I did indeed make two of those babies. I didn’t try to half the recipe and you shouldn’t either. Part of what makes Crack Pie Crack Pie is that it spends some quality time in the freezer. Chef Tosi claims that it is essential to achieve the correct consistency. So I put both pies in the freezer and after we gobbled one down, it was great knowing that I had another just waiting for the perfect occasion to emerge. Another thing that Tosi’s Crack Pies have in them, that is missing from most of the clone recipes I found is the elusive corn powder.

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Corn powder is made from taking freeze-dried corn and simply grinding it up into a powder in your food processor. It not only acts as a binder but it also gives the pie its unique Corn Pop – like taste. Corn starch and corn flour are not good substitutes if you are trying for authentic. You can buy Corn Powder from the Momofuku Milk Bar or you can find freeze-dried corn at the ever so handy Amazon. I have an Amazon Prime membership and freeze-dried corn was delivered to my door on a Sunday, which I think is pretty dang amazing! So plan ahead if you want to make an authentic Crack Pie. And believe me….you do. Following the recipe, or should I say recipes, because like all Chef Tosi creations there is a recipe, within a recipe, within a recipe to master before you reach your final goal. But Oh…it is so worth it. One bite of that salty/sweet nirvana known as Crack Pie (hah! one bite….I should say “once you’ve come up for air” cause you will not stop at one bite…) and you’ll be convinced. So  go ahead and make this legendary confection. Your sweet tooth (or teeth) as the case may be, will thank you – once they get over that initial sugar ache!

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Crack Pie

  • Servings: Two 10 inch pies each serving 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe from: Chef Christina Tosi at Momofuku Milk Bar or perhaps you should invest in the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook for even more yummy treats!

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe oat cookie
  • 15 g (1 tbs tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 g (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
  • 1 recipe crack pie® filling
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Pre heat the oven to 350°F.

Put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can fake it till you make it and crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.)

Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and knead it in.

Divide the oat crust evenly between 2 (9-inch) pie tins. Using your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the oat cookie crust firmly into each pie tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the tin are evenly covered. Use the pie shells immediately, or wrap well in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Put both pie shells on a sheet pan. divide the crack pie® filling evenly between the crusts; the filling should fill them three-quarters of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes only. The pies should be golden brown on top but will still be very jiggly. (I baked mine for about 20 minutes here)

Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Depending on your oven, it may take 5 minutes or longer for the oven to cool to the new temperature. Keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the oven reaches 325°F, close the door and bake the pies for 5 minutes longer. The pies should still be jiggly in the bull’s-eye center but not around the outer edges. If the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven for an additional
5 minutes or so. (I don’t know what was up with my oven, or perhaps it was because I was using 9 inch pie tins rather than 10 inch ones, but I had to bake my pies about 30 more minutes before it was even remotely set. Don’t despair if this happens to you. Have patience. Some how I managed and my Crack Pies were fantastic! And finally, remember that the very center of the pie will still look jiggly when you take it out of the oven. You’ll be afraid that it isn’t done, but it is. Remember to over-cooketh a Crack Pie is a sin!)

Gently take the pan of crack pies® out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. (You can speed up the cooling process by carefully transferring the pies to the fridge or freezer if you’re in a hurry.) Then freeze your pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling for a dense final product—freezing is the signature technique and result of a perfectly executed crack pie®.

If not serving the pies right away, wrap well in plastic wrap. In the fridge, they will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month. Transfer the pie(s) from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost a minimum of 1 hour before you’re ready to get in there.

Serve your crack pie® cold! Decorate your pie(s) with confectioners’ sugar, either passing it through a fine sieve or dispatching pinches with your fingers.

Oat Cookie

Ingredients:

  • 115 g (8 tbs) butter, at room temperature
  • 75 g (1/3 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 40 g (3 tbs) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) flour
  • 120 g (1 1/2 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 0.5 g (1/8 tsp) baking powder
  • 0.25 g (pinch) baking soda
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
  • pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. On low speed, add the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium­ high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white.

On low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. mix for a minute, until your dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. The dough will be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line with parchment, or just line the pan with a silpat. Plop the cookie dough in the center of the pan and, with a spatula, spread it out until it is 1/4 inch thick. The dough won’t end up covering the entire pan; this is ok.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie-caramelized on top and puffed slightly but set firmly. Cool completely before using. wrapped well in plastic, the oat cookie will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Crack Pie® Filling

You must use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to make this filling. It only takes a minute, but it makes all the difference in the homogenization and smooth, silky final product. I repeat: a hand whisk and a bowl or a granny hand mixer will not produce the same results. Also, keep the mixer on low speed through the entire mixing process. If you try to mix the filling on higher speed, you will incorporate too much air and your pie will not be dense and gooey-the essence of crack pie®.

This recipe makes the filling for two Crack Pies.

Ingredients:

  • 300 g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 180 g (3/4 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
  • 24 g (1/4 cup) corn powder
  • 6 g (1 1/2 tsp) kosher salt
  • 225 g (16 tbs) butter, melted
  • 160 g (3/4 cup) heavy cream
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks**

Directions:

Combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, corn powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until evenly blended.

Add the melted butter and paddle for 2 to 3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist.

Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low for 2 to 3 minutes until any white streaks from the cream have completely disap­peared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Add the egg yolks, paddling them into the mixture just to combine; be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and homogenous. mix on low speed until it is.

Use the filling right away, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

**note: It will be the death of your wildly dense pie filling if there is any bit of egg white in the mixture. I believe the easiest, and best, way to separate an egg is to do so in your hands. You may also use the two half-shells to separate the eggs, but the cracked shells can tear the yolk open, and you may not totally separate all the white. If you do this by hand,you can feel when you get every last bit of white away from the yolk. Remember to wash your hands under warm soapy water for 30 seconds or more before and after you handle raw eggs!

Enjoy!

Crack Pie® brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 


White Chicken Chili

January 28, 2015

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Brrrr! Is it cold out there or what?!!! I guess those temperatures do tend to plunge in the winter. And then there’s the snow and sleety/icy mix that shows up as well. Oh yeah, and the howling winds. Just ask any of the folks up there in the Northeastern States that just suffered through a whopper of a winter storm. They’ll tell you all about it. Lucky for us, Virginia was spared. We did get some snow, but it was very little and we were so uber prepared. I saw snow removal trucks rolling down the street in front of our house all night on Monday, spewing salt, plows with sparks flying because there wasn’t even enough snow on the road to push aside. Yes, even the snow novice Virginia locals did well in this storm with a mere 2 hour delay for school and work. I don’t know. Perhaps we’re getting more snow savvy around here. We did have a major snowpocalypse a few years ago and I think we might’ve gotten a baptism by fire back then. Well, there’s no doubt about it, Chili weather is upon us. No not chilly, but Chili (errrr…the husband says that it is Chili weather year round…) and today I have a great recipe for a White Chicken Chili for you.

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Not only is it very easy to make, in fact you can probably have it on your table in about one hour, but it is also incredibly tasty. I would even go so far as to say that this is the best White Chili that I have ever had the good luck to stumble upon. I found the recipe over at Once Upon a Chef and  as usual Jenn did not disappoint. I made it just as she did and it was perfection. No tinkering required. Now don’t freak out when you see that there is a jalapeño pepper as well as two poblanos. As long as you take care not to add the seeds, it isn’t blow the top of your head off spicy. It has just the right amount of heat, especially considering those temps outside. And I love, love, love that you just use a shredded rotisserie chicken in it. Can’t get much easier than that.

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I served this White Chicken Chili topped with sour cream, avocado, tortilla chips and extra cilantro and with a big batch of tasty corn muffins which we ate hot out of the oven and slathered with butter. With a big pot of this chili simmering away on the stove, you’ll likely forget the eternal snow shoveling that is headed your way before Spring is sprung. Yup… although us Virginians were able to dodge the bullet this time, I don’t think Winter is done with us yet…..

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White Chicken Chili

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe from: Once Upon a Chef

Ingredients:

  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 medium poblano peppers, seeded and minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • salt
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice, from one lime, plus more to taste

For Serving:

sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, lime wedges, avocado, Monterrey jack cheese

Directions:

In a food processor, blend 1 can of the beans with 1 cup of the chicken broth. Set aside both the pureed beans and the remaining whole beans

Add the oil to a large pot or Dutch oven and heat it over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeno pepper and poblano peppers and saute until soft, about 5 -7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for one minute more. Add the cumin, coriander and ancho chili powder and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute more to toast the spices. Add the chicken stock, pureed beans and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Stir in the shredded chicken, reserved whole beans, corn, cilantro and lime juice; bring back to a simmer and cook until everything is heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and lime juice. (The broth will be somewhat soupy – don’t worry, that’s how it is supposed to be. The chili will thicken the longer it sits. If you have made it ahead of time and need to thin it out some when you are ready to serve, just add a little more broth before warming.) Serve the chili with a dollop of sour cream, crushed tortilla chips and any other fixins you desire.

Enjoy!

White Chicken Chili brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Steak “Auld Reekie” over Crispy Tatties & Neeps

January 23, 2015

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So hold on a second here! We’ve still got a couple of days til we get to Burns Night. For all of you folks who missed my last posting (it’s still up so you could just take a peek now…) Sunday January 25th is the birthday of Robert Burns, the National Poet of Scotland. On that night folks throughout the world will remember him and celebrate with a Burns Night Supper. I just gave you a great Scottish dessert recipe (Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade…take a look…you know you want to…) and I just couldn’t resist throwing another recipe into the mix this year – Steak Auld Reekie over Crispy Tatties & Neeps. I’m just imagining the big question mark a lot of you must have hovering over your faces right now. Anything “old reekie” doesn’t sound very appetizing huh? And what the heck is “tatties & neeps” right?!!  So let me explain.  Reek is the Scots word for smoke, not for something horribly stinky as you might have imagined. Auld Reekie was the nickname given to Edinburgh back in the day when it was full of smoke from all of the open coal fires burning in the city. Steak Auld Reekie is not then some putrified filet, but it is rather a classic Victorian dish of fried steaks with a cream and smoked cheese sauce. Get it….smoked cheese gives the dish that lovely smoky taste which is reminiscent of smoky old Edinburgh from back in the day. And of course it has a bit of Scotch whisky thrown in for good measure.

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Now Tatties & Neeps are simply Potatoes and Turnips (also known as Swede or Rutabaga). Haggis with Tatties & Neeps are the quintessential dishes served at a traditional Burns Night Supper. The Tatties & Neeps in that case are prepared similar to chunky, roughly mashed potatoes. Since I was not going to be serving Haggis (I actually like it…) but Steak Auld Reekie I decided to do a variation on the traditional Tatties & Neeps. I grated the potatoes and swede, formed them into a panko crusted pancake and fried them to a crispy golden brown. Now I made the pancakes fairly large, 5″ – 6″,  so that I could serve the steaks and sauce on top of them. However, you could make smaller sized patties if you wanted to serve them as a side dish, perhaps with a little dollop of sour cream and Coleman’s mustard.

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I will warn you, the whole process of making the Crispy Tatties & Neeps was messy. It is really challenging to work with those raw pancakes and I also found it difficult to just leave them be once I had gotten them into the frying pan. I wanted to keep poking at them and checking the bottom. Don’t do it! They need 5 minutes undisturbed! Fooling with them simply makes them fall to pieces and you’ll end up with a pan of hash browns, which I guess isn’t really a bad thing at all, but likely not what you’re going for here. Of course it’s always nice to have an escape route should kitchen disaster strike…”Yeah…we’re having Steak Auld Reekie and Tatties & Neeps Hash!” So this Sunday don’t forget Scotland’s favourite son. I’ll leave you with a little snippet of a toast written to Rabbie Burns by Stewart Archibald of Ballater, Scotland:

His name still ranks amongst the best fae the bonnie Scottish shores, His words they still work wonders and open mony doors, So as we gather here the nicht lets toast the Ayrshire man, Fa maks us friens thru troubled times in far flung foreign lands. Pit doon yir fags, get on yir feet and raise yir gless up high, Let’s toast and hope his name lives on, till a’ the seas rin dry.

“RABBIE BURNS”

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Steak Auld Reekie with Crispy Tatties & Neeps

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Steak Auld Reekie from:  Rampant Scotland: Traditional Scottish Recipes

Fried Tattie & Neeps inspired by: Epicurious

Steak Auld Reekie

Ingredients:

  • Four 8 oz (250 g) fillets of Aberdeen Angus Steak
  • 4 Tablespoons Scotch Whisky
  • 13 fluid ounces (350g) heavy cream
  • 4 oz. (125 grams) grated smoked cheese
  • 1 oz. (25 g) butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Grill or pan fry the steaks to your preference and keep warm. Pour whisky into a pan (the same one if you are pan frying a sauce pan if you are grilling) and flambé. Add cream and grated cheese and bring to the simmering point. Gently simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce has been reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper and mix in the butter. When ready to serve, place steaks on top of Crispy Tatties & Neeps panackes and pour sauce over the steaks.

Crispy Tatties & Neeps

Ingredients:

  • 1 large russet potato, washed and peeled
  • 1 yellow turnip or rutabaga
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Panko
  • olive oil for frying
  • sour cream and spicy mustard

Directions:

Grate potato and turnip. This can be done by hand or with a food processor. (Lazy me choses the processor every time). In medium bowl combine grated potato and turnip with onions, chives and egg. Mix together.

Heat oil in a skillet. Form tennis ball sized portions of the potato/turnip mixture, using an ice cream scoop and then compact it a bit more with you hands. Transfer potato turnip ball to one hand and with the other grab some of the panko. Place the potato/turnip ball on top of the held panko. With your recently freed hand grab more panko and press down over the top of the potato/turnip ball. Gently place it in frying pan. Push down on ball with a spatula to flatten into a 5″ – 6″ pancake. Now here is what might be the hard part for some of you folks. Don’t touch it for about 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes has passed and it is golden brown on bottom, turn pancake over and cook for about 5 minutes. Transfer to ovenproof platter and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining portions.

Enjoy!

Steak Auld Reekie with Crispy Tatties & Neeps brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade

January 20, 2015

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O.k. It seems like corks were just popping on New Year’s Eve and BAM...next thing I know we’ve nearly reached the end of January! Indeed the 25th will be happening this Sunday. So what is the significance of January 25th you might ask. Well, throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, folks will be celebrating with a Burns Night Supper to mark the occasion. Robert Burns, who is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland, was born on that day in 1759. I’m quite a Burns fan myself and will certainly be raising my glass to The Bard this weekend. I have given you some great Scottish recipes in the past in case you might be planning a Burn’s Night Supper of you own. Last year it was Scotch Egg Pie, which is a type of meat pie that has spicy sausage surrounding an inner circle of hard-boiled eggs all wrapped up in a buttery flaky pie crust.

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The year before I shared Cock-a-leekie soup

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 which I served with delicious, crusty Struan. Struan, also known as Celtic Harvest Bread, is thought to have taken its name from a town in Western Scotland called Struanmoor, on the Isle of Skye. It was originally enjoyed once a year as a harvest bread, using whatever grains were available from the previous day’s harvest. This is my absolute favourite bread, so it is almost always available in my house. It toasts up particularly brilliantly.

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The year before that it was Deviled Scotch Eggs.

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And I had also previously given you the traditional Scotch Egg recipe. If you don’t know what Scotch Eggs are, believe me it is time that you find out! Basically it is  a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and then deep-fried. Good Lord Have Mercy!

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So I have already set the bar pretty high for myself when it comes to Scottish delicacies for your Burn’s Night Supper. Nevertheless, I think I’ve risen to the challenge yet again. This year I’m going to turn my attention from the savory to the sweet. I’ve got a great Scottish dessert I’d like to share with you, Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade Sauce. Now I bet that’s got you drooling huh?

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Dundee Cake is a famous traditional Scottish fruit cake which hales from…bet you guessed it already huh? Yup…Dundee. You see, there is a famous marmalade company, Keiller’s, which is located in Dundee and they are credited with developing this recipe in the 19th Century. Actually, there is a chance that although they popularized this cake at that time, the recipe is much older, dating back to the 16th century perhaps. The legend goes that Mary Queen of Scots did not like glace cherries in her cakes. I can’t say I blame her. I think those things are quite suspicious to say the least. So the classic fruit cake recipe was somewhat altered for her and a cake was made without the usual cherries, but with blanched almonds instead.

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Dundee Cake is often served at Christmas time throughout the British Isles, but definitely in Scotland. Indeed, recently the town of Dundee has put in a bid to have Dundee Cake awarded a Protected Geographical Indicator Status from the European Commission. That will prevent anyone who is not from Dundee from selling a cake labeled as Dundee Cake. You know, it is like Champagne. Champagne is only bottled in Champagne France. If it is produced in any other locale, it is not Champagne and needs to be called Sparkling wine. If the Dundee Cake is awarded PGI status, consumers will have 100% guarantee of its authenticity and confidence that they will enjoy all of the unique characteristics that have long been associated with this type of cake traditionally made in Dundee.

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So what is this cake like? Well, it is delicious of course! And don’t even start raising your eyebrows and giving me that “are you kidding me… it is a fruit cake” kind of face. Unlike many fruitcakes you might have encountered in the past that were most likely used as a door stop rather than eaten, this cake is light and buttery with a touch spice and warm citrus notes. Not to mention that it is chock full of juicy, whisky soaked fruit and festooned with circles of almonds.

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Notice I spelled whisky properly here. When referring to Scotch, there is no “e” in whisky. And speaking of whisky, don’t forget that each slice of this moist, rich cake should be served with a generous pour of Hot Whiskey Marmalade Sauce and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Yum! It will change everything you thought you knew about fruitcakes! I hope I have inspired you to host a Burns Night Supper of your own or at least to raise a wee dram and drink a toast to Scotland’s Favourite Son this Sunday.

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Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade Sauce

  • Servings: one 8 inch cake
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Epicurious

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Scotch whisky (plus more for soaking fruit)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup dark raisins
  • 3/4 cup dried currants
  • 1/3 cup chopped candied orange peel (I used mixed candied peel from King Arthur Flour)
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • Whole blanched almonds (Can’t find pre-blanched almonds in the store? No problem. See instructions below**.)

For the Hot Whisky Sauce:

  • 2/3 cup orange marmalade
  • 3 tablespoons whisky
  • 4 oranges

Freshly whipped cream for serving.

Directions:

For the cake:

The night prior to baking, place the raisins and currants in a bowl. Pour enough whisky over fruit to cover it. Allow fruit to soak overnight. This is an optional step, but I believe that it not only allows the fruit to plump up a bit, but it gives it a wonderful boozy flavour!

Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter 8-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; line bottom with parchment paper. You could also use a springform pan or if your 8″ cake round does not have 2″ high sides, line the sides with parchment paper to gain the 2″ height. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and spice into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, whisky, and grated orange peel in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in dry ingredients, then all dried fruits and candied peel. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake cake 1 hour. Remove cake from oven. Brush top with 2 tablespoons marmalade. Arrange almonds around edge, pressing lightly to adhere. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes longer. Cool cake completely in pan on rack. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.) Turn cake out of pan; peel off parchment. Place upright on plate.

For the Whisky Sauce:

Combine marmalade and whisky in medium saucepan. Cut all peel and white pith from oranges. Working over bowl to catch juices, cut between membranes, releasing orange segments. Add 2 tablespoons orange juice from bowl to saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until marmalade melts and sauce is heated through, about 5 minutes. Transfer sauce to serving bowl.

Serve cake with warm sauce, orange segments, and whipped cream.

Enjoy!

Dundee Cake with Hot Whisky Marmalade Sauce brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

*Don’t have pumpkin pie spice?: Pumpkin pie spice is a combination of mostly cinnamon, with some ginger, allspice and nutmeg added into the mix. This recipe only calls for 1/8 tsp. of the spice. You could just add a dash of the above spices and call it a day.

**How to blanch almonds: Take raw unsalted almonds and drop them in boiling water. Allow them to boil for 60 seconds, but no longer. Remove almonds to a colander and rinse them with cold water. Blot them dry with a paper towel. The skins can easily be removed at this point by simply squeezing the almond between your fingers. Let the almonds dry entirely. Voila! You now have blanched almonds ready to use in this recipe.


Christmas in Vermont Bread

January 16, 2015

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So wooo-wheee! That’s it!! The holidays are over!!! Now please don’t take my obvious joy at that statement as a hint that perhaps I have a bit of a  “grinchy” attitude towards Christmas.

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I don’t…for the most part anyway, though I feel a disclaimer should pop up here saying something like ” Mood subject to change a the drop of a hat”. There are a lot of things about the holidays that I enjoy, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they aren’t a whole heck of a lot of work. So I do admit when they are finally done and dusted, I am definitely relieved as well as somewhat delighted. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this past Christmas and whipped up some delicious treats. As usual, before everything was in a full frenzied Christmas whirl, I swore that I would take the time to get pictures of all of the delicacies that I made. And as usual, guess what? Things got hectic and heated and as if you hadn’t guessed from my sudden disappearance from the blog-a-shpere around mid-December, yeah, I didn’t really get any photos….Except….Of one of my favourite new recipes this year, Christmas in Vermont Bread. I love, love, LOVE this bread. The fact that I snapped photos of it are nothing short of a Christmas miracle in itself, so I just had to share it with you, even though Christmas is indeed gone. (I might be doing one of those jumping up and down hands waving about over  the head silent cheers right now.)

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This bread was very easy to make and looks pretty impressive if I do say so myself. It is a soft and tender sweet yeast bread which has a scrumptious ribbon of pecan and maple sugar running through the middle as well as generously sprinkled over the top.

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And as if that wasn’t enough, there is also an addictive maple sugar glaze drizzled liberally over the top. Great to gobble down toasted (the bread, not yourself…though the festive holiday season has been known to involve a bit of tipple or two…) with lashings of butter, or to take to a holiday get together or even give as a gift! As I mentioned, it is easy to make with one caveat. It does call for Maple Sugar, which might be difficult for you to find. King Arthur Flour sells it on their site or you could always order from Amazon. Or you could always just substitute brown sugar. (I really like the Maple flavour though, so you might want to plan ahead and procure the true blue maple stuff) Bottom line is this bread is amazing! It will be a Christmas tradition around here without a doubt. But I should mention, it would also be lovely to have at Thanksgiving. I think all of its warm maple and pecan flavours certainly evoke a Fall-time, Thanksgiving -y vibe. Heck, who am I kidding. I’m sure the next time you check in with me I’ll have a loaf of “Easter in Vermont Bread” or “Height of Summer” in Vermont Bread. It is that good, there is no reason why it can’t be enjoyed year round. Unless you’re concerned about being able to zip your britches up I suppose. I don’t know, maybe skinny jeans are over-rated. Stretchy yoga pants are quite fashionable now a days. But I digress….I guess what I’m saying is that this Christmas in Vermont Bread is worth a little indulgence. You should give it a try, no matter what time of year. I guarantee you will be hooked!

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Christmas in Vermont Bread

  • Servings: 16 -18 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk (reserve the white)

 For the Filling and topping:

  • 1/2 cup maple sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup pecan meal or almond flour, or very finely ground pecans or almonds
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

For the Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup maple sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup glazing sugar or confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Melt the butter in the milk, and let cool to lukewarm (98° – 105°F). Combine all of the dough ingredients, and mix and knead them—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—until you have a very soft, shiny, slightly sticky dough. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rise for 1 1/2 hours.

To make the filling: Stir together all of the filling ingredients until they form coarse crumbs. Set them aside.

Grease a large tube pan. (make it a large one – lots of ovenspring here). Scoop about half of the dough into the greased pan. Sprinkle about two-thirds of the filling atop the dough. Top with the remaining dough.

Beat the reserved egg white till foamy. Brush over the dough, and sprinkle with the remaining filling/topping. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 1/2 hours, or till puffy.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s golden brown. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool while you make the glaze. Mix the glaze ingredients together and heat them, in a saucepan or in the microwave, till the sugar dissolves. Place the loaf on a serving plate and drizzle with the warm glaze. Cool completely before slicing with a serrated knife.

Enjoy!

Christmas in Vermont Bread brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

December 16, 2014

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Hmmm…I really seem to be on a roll with the bread recipes lately. And here I go with yet another, Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits! I am very excited to share this recipe with you because not only is it very quick and easy but it also yields up some of the best buttermilk biscuits I have ever eaten. And it is not only me who is saying so, but also the husband, who happens to be a bit of a biscuit connoisseur. He whole-heartedly agrees. These biscuits are rich and buttery with a tender, moist crumb and a golden crisp crust.

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I often make these biscuits in a mini size and serve them as appetizers (perfect for all of the Holiday parties happening now), topped with a bit of country ham, Bourbon Bacon Jam or Drunken Granny Apple Butter. But I have also made them into full-sized biscuits, great along side a bowl of soup or when stuffed with sausage, eggs, cheese and hash browns (what?…) for an awesome, eye-opening breakfast biscuit.

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Now there are a few tricks you should keep in mind when making biscuits. The best flour to use is a low gluten flour, like cake flour. But I know not everyone has cake flour on hand and part of the beauty of this biscuit recipe is that it can be whipped up quickly. So by cutting a little corn starch into all-purpose flour that you undoubtedly have in supply, you can achieve the same high rise and tender crumb as a cake flour biscuit. The cream cheese addition to these biscuits not only gives them an extra richness but also encourages rise and flakiness. And always remember when you cut out biscuits, push the cutter straight through the dough. Do not twist. Twisting will inhibit biscuit rise.

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So with a few tricks of the trade, you can have these fluffy, buttery golden beauties on your table in about 30 minutes. It’s a good thing that you can make these up so quickly because I guarantee you folks will go wild (otherwise known as “biscuit frenzy”) and you will find these biscuits gone before you know it.

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Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

  • Servings: 12 regular sized or 48 -50 appetizers sized biscuits
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Once Upon a Chef

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup cold buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to mix.

Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the cream cheese and pulse a few times until incorporated with a few pea-sized pieces of cream cheese intact. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl.

Add the buttermilk and stir with a spoon until dough comes together into a craggy mass. Do not over mix.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with a bit more flour and bring together gently into a loose ball. Pat the dough into a 3/4 ” thick rectangle.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into thirds. Stack the pieces on top of one another and pat out into a 3/4″ thick rectangle again, flouring the surface lightly as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.

Cut the dough into thirds again. Stack the pieces on top of one another and pat into a 1/2″ thick circle if you are making appetizer biscuits, a 1/2″ thick rectangle if you are making regular biscuits.

Dust a 1 1/4″ biscuit cutter with flour and cut out as many appetizer biscuits as you can. Gather up the scraps, pat into a circle again and continue cutting out biscuits until no dough remains. Or if you are making full-sized biscuits, dust the blade of a sharp knife with flour and cut the dough into twelve even squares.

Transfer dough to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until the biscuits are lightly golden on top and a deeper brown on the bottom.

Enjoy!

Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham

December 12, 2014

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It may not technically be winter yet, but I think old man Winter is definitely stirring. It has not only been hovering around freezing here, but is has also been wet and windy as well. Yup, you get chilled to the bone the second you peek your head out of the door. This kind of weather just begs that you to have a big old pot of soup simmering away on the stove…say like this Split Pea with Ham Soup. Thick, rich and hearty, it is comfort food at it’s finest.

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I was inspired to make up a batch of this soup when I found myself with a ham bone after the Thanksgiving festivities. I don’t know about most of you folks, but we can’t manage to have Thanksgiving with just turkey. Nope…there has got to be ham as well. (and oysters since I grew up on an island…). I used to just toss that ham bone out without a second thought. But now I know that was really a mistake. The ham bone gives this soup such an amazing flavour and to be honest contributed quite a bit of meat. I thought we had pretty much picked it clean, but after it spend many hours simmering away, meat was just falling off of that bone. Which brings me to the other fantastic thing about this soup. It is incredibly easy to prepare. I just put all of the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning and eight hours later, after a wee bit of immersion blending, dinner was served!

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No fuss, no muss, and a big payoff. The husband says it is the best Split Pea Soup he has ever tasted. So there you have it. Christmas is right around the corner. If you find yourself with a ham bone left over, you’ll know just what to do!

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Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Garnish With Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16-ounce) package dried split peas, rinsed
  • 5 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 leftover ham bone (or 3 ham hocks – 1 1/2 lbs. Store bought ham hocks don’t have a lot of meat left on them, though they provide a lot of flavour. If you want a meaty soup you might need to supplement it with a little extra ham.)

Directions:

Place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker; gently stir. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Or if you are short on time, cook on high for 4 hours.

Remove the bay leaf from the soup and discard. Remove ham bone from soup and pull remaining meat from the bone. It should fall off quite easily. Set meat aside.

At this point, you can either remove a few cups of the soup, puree in the blender and return to the slow cooker or use your immersion blender for 10 seconds to puree the soup slightly. Stir the reserved ham back into the soup and serve warm.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 

 


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