Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)

April 15, 2017

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Happy Easter or since I’m going to go with Greek traditions this year, I should say Kali Anastasi (Happy Resurrection)! This year I’ve got quite a delicious treat to share with you: Tsoureki or Greek Easter Bread. Traditionally served at Easter, its three stranded braid represents the holy trinity and the red egg symbolizes Christ’s blood. This lovely enriched yeast bread is very similar to brioche or challah, but is spiced with Mahlep which is derived from cherry pits. This is what gives it a very distinct cherry/almond flavor. Yup…soft, moist & fluffy with an unforgettable sweet nutty flavor… now that is an Easter brunch winner if ever I’ve heard of one! But truth be told, what really sold the Husband on this recipe was the promise that it would make a superb french toast!

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I’ve done some really tasty Easter recipes over the years. Like this amazing Italian Easter Pie from last year:

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And I don’t want to forget this lovely Slovak Paska from a couple of years ago:

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Keeping up the International Easter theme, remember way back in 2012 I made this Russian Kulich (Easter Bread):

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And then there is that Easter classic Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns:

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There are just so many delicious Easter recipes to choose from. You just can’t go wrong! And this year’s offering is no exception. Now I will say, you do need to plan a bit ahead to make Tsoureki. You need to get ahold of some Mahleb. I have provided you with an amazon link below and I hear that Penzey’s Spices might also carry it. Luckily there is an amazing Greek Deli that we love, located right around the corner from our place in Richmond Virginia: Nick’s International Foods. They had an abundance of Mahleb available as well as some great greek easter egg dye which enabled me to get the loveliest red eggs out there! Nick’s authentic Mediterranean Market has been proudly serving Richmond since the late 1950’s and from its current location at Broad & Monroe since 1980. Not only do the carry your average small grocery store items but they also boast a huge selection of imported cheeses and specialty European ingredients not easily found elsewhere. And don’t even get me going about their deli! Delicious sandwiches and fantastic soups. Not to mention all the folks who work there are so friendly and helpful. You just feel right at home. So if you are in the area, make sure you check it out!

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But let me get back to this Tsoureki. This bread is pretty easy to make, especially since you break it up over the course of two days. On the first day you mix up the starter, make the dough and then you pop it into your fridge overnight so that it can have a long, slow rise. On the second day all you have to do is shape your dough, let it rise once again and then pop it in the oven to bake. Traditionally this bread is decorated with hard-boiled eggs which have been dyed red, symbolizing the blood of Christ. After the hard boiled eggs bake in the oven along with the bread, they are pretty much inedible, so although some folks decorate their Tsoureki with multiple evenly spaced eggs, I chose to only use one egg at the end of the braid. The way the Husband loves eggs, he would have cried if I had sacrificed any more eggs than necessary!

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Also, if you use a dyed egg when you bake the loaf, a bit of that red color will bleed onto the surrounding bread. If you are worried with the appearance, you can simply use an egg which has not been dyed as a sort of place holder. Then once the bread is out of the oven and cooled, simply swap it out for that vibrant red egg. And don’t skip rubbing the eggs with a bit of oil once they’ve been dyed. It really makes them look amazing!

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Once your dough is ready to be shaped, there are several ways to proceed. You can make one long braid as I did in the recipe shown below. Though I will say this makes a huge loaf of bread. I think the next time I make it I will divide it in half and make a couple smaller loaves. You can also shape the braid into a circle and put it into a 9″ cake tin to bake. Or you could make several smaller personal sized circular braids, which would be fun for a smaller Easter brunch. But definitely give this terrific bread a try. I can tell you right now that it is simply heavenly just slathered with butter. I’m sure the french toast we have tomorrow will be nothing short of divine! Happy Easter!

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Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)

  • Servings: 1 large loaf or 2 -3 smaller ones
  • Difficulty: easy - but you need to plan ahead!
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recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

Starter:

  • 1 1/2 cups (177 grams) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup (227 grams) lukewarm (95°F) water
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Dough:

  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups (298 grams – 418 grams) Unbleached all-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (18 grams) Baker’s Special Dried Milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground mahlep, or the same amount of vanilla extract
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 3 large eggs — 2 for the dough, 1 to brush over the loaf before baking

Optional Decoration:

  • 1 -6 hard-boiled eggs, dyed red
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, for brushing the hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup halved almond (optional)
  • cinnamon/sugar (for dusting – optional)
  • honey (for glazing – optional)

Directions:

To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour. The mixture will initially be the consistency of thick pancake batter; after an hour it should be very bubbly, airy, and doubled in size.

While the starter rests, ready the dough. Melt the butter over low heat and set it aside to cool. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the sugar, dry milk, salt, mahlep and zest from one orange.

Mix 2 of the eggs into the risen starter. Stir in the cooled melted butter.

If you’re substituting vanilla extract for mahlep, stir it in. Add the flour/sugar mixture and stir until everything is incorporated.

Add the remaining 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups flour 1 cup at a time, as needed to make dough that’s stiff enough to form a ball but is also soft and slightly sticky.

Knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until it springs back when pressed gently with a floured finger. If kneading by hand, try to use only the lightest dusting of flour on the counter and on your hands. The more gently you knead, the less sticky the dough will seem. When done, place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight.

The next morning, remove the dough from the fridge and knead it gently a few times, to deflate it.

Decide whether you want to make one braided loaf, two loaves, or a round braid. If you want to make the round braid, liberally butter a 9″ round cake pan. For the braided loaves, line a baking sheet with parchment.

Divide the dough into three pieces for the 9″ round or the single braided loaf. Divide dough into 6 pieces for the two loaves. Set them aside, covered with lightly greased plastic wrap.

If you’re using the dyed eggs, rub each one with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil and set them aside. 

Make three 16″ strands with the dough; pinch the ends together at one end. Braid for 4″ to 5″; tuck an egg into the braid. Continue to braid, placing another egg into the braid at 2″ intervals. 

Cover the shaped loaf with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature for 2 to 2 1/2 hours; if you’re using the round pan, the top of the loaf should be just barely level with the top rim of the pan. During the last 45 minutes of the rise, preheat your oven to 350°F.

To bake the bread: Lightly beat the remaining egg. Brush it over the loaf. (Alternatively, omit the egg wash if you’d prefer to brush the loaf with honey when it comes out of the oven.) Or brush the loaf with egg wash, sprinkle cinnamon/sugar over the bread and top with halved almond. If you’re baking a round loaf, press the last hard-boiled egg firmly into the center of the risen loaf. 

Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Open the oven door, reach in, and carefully press each egg farther down into the bread.

Continue to bake the bread for an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F. Tent the bread with aluminum foil for the last 30 minutes, to prevent over-browning. 

Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack. If desired, heat 1/4 cup honey with 1 tablespoon water until warm, and brush over the loaf. Let the bread cool completely before serving.

Enjoy!

Tsoureki brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Tsoureki:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

SAF Instant Yeast

Mahlab Spice

Hand Held Zester

Greek Red Easter Egg Dye

Whole Milk Powder or here from King Arthur


Corned Beef Hash

March 13, 2015

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Corned Beef and cabbage! What would St. Patrick’s Day be without it? The quintessential Irish dish, or is it? Well, I’m sure all of my Irish friends (the ones that actually live in Ireland, not the Irish American ones to be specific) are saying…”What would it be without it? What would it be with it is a better question!” That’s right folks…Corned Beef and Cabbage is not considered “Irish” by the Irish themselves. They don’t really eat it there on St. Patrick’s Day or likely any other day of the year. “Hey….”I can just hear some of you saying…”I visited there last St. Patrick’s Day and I was served up a big old plate of the stuff”. I don’t doubt that you were. The Irish, being as accommodating as they are, made it up just because they knew hoards of Irish American tourists were going to turn up and be expecting it. It is not traditional for them whatsoever! But, that being said…it IS traditional St. Patrick’s Day fare for all the Irish Americans out there, who are the ones that really got that St. Patrick’s Day party going. And the recipe for today, Corned Beef Hash, doesn’t have so much to do with how to cook that big old hunk of corned beef and vegetables (hint….you boil the bejesus out of it….Just kidding 🙂 You simmer it all day, ever so gently… ), but what you do with the leftovers. I love recipes for leftovers. So much so that I’m giving you the one today and another one tomorrow. (bit of a spoiler, but it is for a corned beef appetizer, so stay tuned!). The husband swears that this Corned Beef Hash is fantastic. Indeed he preferred it to the original Corned Beef Feast we’d had the night before.

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But I’m sure some of you folks are still reeling from me letting the old “Corned Beef isn’t really Irish” cat out of the bag. So let me explain a little bit. Corned Beef, as I’m sure ya’ll know, has nothing to do with corn. The “corn” part of the title refers to the fact that large grain rock salt (salt kind of the same size as a grain of corn) was traditionally used to cure it. Back in the day, before reliable refrigeration, this “corning” was done to preserve meat. That vibrant pink color that corned beef is sporting is due to the pink salt that was used to cure it. Now this isn’t the fancy pants pink Himalayan salt that you may have read about, nope this is salt with good old sodium nitrate mixed in, which has been dyed a bright pink so that it is easily distinguishable from regular salt. It is the same reason why hot dogs have that rosy pink hue. Saltpetre, or potassium nitrate has also been used to preserve meat since the Middle Ages. Interestingly enough, it is also one of the main ingredients in gun powder. Saltpetre inhibits the germination of C. botulinum endospores as well as softens tough meat. Seventeenth century Ireland was the largest supplier of corned beef  in the world. That was because beef was very plentiful in the country and the salt tax in Ireland was 1/ 10 of what is was in England which meant the Anglo-Irish could import high quality salt at a lower price, cure that plentiful beef that they had in abundance and ready it for export. Which they did so much so that Irish Corned Beef was regarded as the best on the market from the 1600’s until about 1825.  However, although the Irish were exporting a lot of beef, they were not eating it. The Irish traditionally ate pork and beef was too expensive. After the potato famine in the mid 1800’s, many Irish immigrated to the United States. Once they arrived, many settling in New York, and living next to the many other immigrants of that time, they found that pork was very expensive, but that beef , which had previously been unaffordable, was plentiful. Their fellow immigrant Jewish butcher neighbors often sold an inexpensive cut of cured or corned beef brisket, which had started out quite tough but had been transformed by the curing process into a tender flavourful cut of beef. The Irish, being very adaptable, substituted this Jewish Corned Beef for the more expensive joint of bacon in their familiar boiled cabbage and potato recipe, thereby transforming and reinterpreting  the dish.

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So there you have it, not an Irish dish per se, but an exceedingly Irish American dish. I hope this recipe will inspire you to cast your eye not only to the big St. Patrick’s Day feast, but also to the days after. The leftovers days. St. Patrick’s Day is only four days away, so plan ahead! Buy that bigger cut of brisket and cook up a bit extra, so that you’ll have plenty of leftovers to work with. I promise you, you won’t regret it. This Corned Beef Hash is phenomenal. Just what the doctor called for to perk you up the day after the many St. Patrick’s Day parades, festivities and undoubtedly excessive green beer guzzling.

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Corned Beef Hash

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: BonAppetit

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups leftover shredded Corned Beef
  • 1 medium onion, left over from Corned Beef feast
  • 1 large russet potato, left over from Corned Beef feast
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup Irish Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Chopped fresh chives (for serving)

Directions:

This recipe assumes that you’ve already made your St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef Feast and have managed to set aside a few leftovers, namely 2 cups of shredded corned beef, 1 medium onion and one large russet potato. I had used baby red potatoes when I made my corned beef dinner, so I just used a big handful of those.

Preheat oven to 200° F. Thinly slice cooked onion and potato into 1/2″ pieces; toss in a large bowl with corned beef, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1 cup Irish Cheddar. Moisten with some reserved cooking liquid if mixture seems dry. If you don’t have cooking liquid, just use a splash or two of Guinness; season with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 of the corned beef mixture and press down to form a pancake. Cook undisturbed until the underside is golden brown and crisp, about 6 – 8 minutes. Set a plate over the pan and carefully invert the pancake onto it; then slide it back into the pan, uncooked side down. Press it back into pancake shape again and then once again…do not touch it! Let it cook for 6 – 8 minutes again. Then carefully transfer it to a baking sheet, tent with foil and pace in the oven to keep warm until you are ready to serve. Repeat with the remaining butter and corned beef mixture.

Meanwhile, bring 2″ of water to boil in a large saucepan or frying pan. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and add vinegar.

Crack an egg into a small bowl and once the water has reached a temperature of 190°F, slide the egg into the water. Repeat with the remaining eggs, waiting until the egg whites are opaque before adding the next egg. Poach for about 4 minutes to 4 1/2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to a paper towel. Trim away any whispy egg whites if you desire. Eggs can be poached 2 hours ahead of time; place in a bowl of ice water and chill. If you are planning on doing eggs ahead and will need to reheat, you may want to reduce initial cooking time to 3 – 3 1/2 minutes so that they are not overdone after reheating. Reheat in simmering water for 1 minute prior to serving.

Serve eggs over hash, seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with chives, more cheddar and more parsley.

Enjoy!

Corned Beef Hash brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 


Icelandic Bolludagur Cream Buns

February 16, 2015

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Bolla, Bolla, Bolla! Bet you didn’t know it, but today is Bolludagur (Bun Day) in Iceland. Bolludagur always falls on the monday before Ash Wednesday. On this day, the children of Iceland try to sneak into their parents bedroom, while they are still sleeping and whip them awake with brightly colored wands or paddles (bolludagsvöndur) while shouting Bolla, Bolla, Bolla! The number of spanks the child is able to land before the parent rises from bed, likely to land a few spanks of their own, is the number of Cream Buns they will be able to scarf down that day.

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Apparently this holiday came to Iceland via Denmark in the 19th Century, but Iceland has of course put its own spin on it. The husband and I have gone on holiday to Iceland for the past couple years and plan to visit again this Spring. We just can’t seem to get enough of it.

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Iceberg on black sand beach near Jökulsárlón.

Shortly after our first visit, I started to follow the blog I heart Reykjavik written by Reykjavik local Auður Ösp. It is an icelandic travel blog, but even if you aren’t planning a visit, you should take a peek. It is quite interesting, full of Auður’s recommendations to make your stay in Reykjavik the best it can be, along with her beautiful photography of the stunning country and all peppered with her witty commentary. And if you are planning a visit, this blog is simply a must! (Auður not only guides walking tours of Reykjavik, but also provides other unique opportunities for visitors such as a crash course in the Icelandic language and even home cooked dinners with the locals.) It was on her blog that I first learned about Bolludagur. What a great holiday! One I stand absolutely ready to incorporate into my yearly celebrations. And since I have no children, won’t the husband be surprized when I show up bright and early with my bolludagsvöndur at the ready !

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Now although you can find these Bolludagur Buns everywhere in Iceland right now, they were pretty thin on the ground here in Virginia, so I made my own.

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These buns are very similar to profiteroles or eclairs, made with a choux pastry. And one of the many great things about them is that they are very customizable. Just make up the buns and fill them with sweetened whipped cream. After that, the sky’s the limit! Stuff a bit of extra jam in with the cream, or maybe you have some Lime Curd left over from that Blackberry & Lime Tart I just told you about. Put some of that it there, with some of the leftover blackberries. I did some of the buns filled with that scrumptious, award-winning Chocolate & Raspberry Preserves from the Green Apron that I’ve told you about in the past (remember those Chocolate & Raspberry Buttermilk Doughnuts I made…) and topped it with more chocolate…because why wouldn’t you? These buns are supposed to be a bit decadent!

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I also did a salted caramel filled bun, again topped with chocolate.

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Like I said, it is completely up to you. Just make sure you eat your fill today…I’ll even make the spanking bit optional for you adults….Bolla, Bolla, Bolla!

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Icelandic Bolludagur Cream Buns

  • Servings: 12 -15 cream buns
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Icelandic Roots

Ingredients:

For the buns:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 large eggs

For the cream and filling:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • raspberry jam, salted caramel, melted chocolate

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a large saucepan, stir together water, butter, salt and sugar on stove medium-high until butter melts. Add the flour and beat until thick. Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly.

Move flour butter mixture to bowl of stand mixer. Add the eggs and quickly beat them into the batter until it is smooth.

At this point, you can drop the batter onto a greased baking sheet using two spoons. Or you can place the dough in a pastry bag and pipe it onto a parchment lined baking sheet. This is the method I used as I was hoping to have the buns all be consistent in size. I drew 2″ circles on the parchment as a guide and then flipped it over and piped the dough to fit the circles.

Bake 30 minutes until golden brown. And here is where it gets really difficult. Do not open the oven during baking. Not at all. Not even a for a quick peek. You will cause those buns to fall flat! Turn the oven off and let the buns cool undisturbed within the oven.

Whip cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar to stiff peaks. Slice cooled buns in half. Fill with cream (again, I piped it in, but you could just spoon them full…) and anything else you would like…say like Chocolate Raspberry Jam, or salted caramel. Top with a little sprinkling of confectioners sugar or with melted chocolate or any other frosting or glaze that your heart desires!

Enjoy!

Icelandic Bolludagur Cream Buns brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 


Inside out Pumpkin Muffins filled with Cider Cinnamon Cream Cheese

November 25, 2014

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Thanksgiving is nearly upon us and I’m sure you probably feel as though you were drowning in a sea of pumpkin-y recipes. So what do I do, well how does that saying go, “if you can’t beat ’em…” I jumped right on the old band wagon and today bring you a recipe for Inside Out Pumpkin Muffins filled with Cider Cinnamon Cream Cheese.

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Now this isn’t you’re regular old pumpkin bread muffin, oh no. This moist muffin is just full of all of those wonderful flavours that you associate with Thanksgiving – like pumpkin (duh), sweet and tangy apple cider and warm cinnamon. As a bonus, they are stuffed with the most delicious Apple Cider Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread. This cream cheese spread is made with that boiled cider that I’ve been talking up recently. And you only end up using about 1/2 of the Cider Cinnamon spread in these muffins, so you’ll have plenty around to spread on a bagel or English Muffin, or to dip apple slices or pita chips into, or to just schmear more all over the top of these pumpkin muffins. Hey, I know it is already baked into the middle, but believe me, this spread is amazing! You won’t be able to get enough of it! Yup, it definitely elevates these Pumpkin Muffins to a cut above the regular ones out there. I baked my muffins in an adorable Nordic Ware Maple Leaf Pan, which certainly adds to the harvest vibe.

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However, these muffins bake up brilliantly in regular muffin tins if you don’t have a Maple Leaf Pan. No worries! Perfect with a cup of tea on Thanksgiving morning as you gear up for your busy day or very welcome when passed around to folks as a pre-meal snack. Make up a batch today, Trust me, you will be so thankful you have these little treats on hand!

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Inside Out Pumpkin Muffins filled with Cider Cinnamon Cream Cheese

  • Servings: 12 - 16 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (about half a standard 15-ounce can)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup boiled cider (for best flavor), or dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice; or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 batch of Apple Cider Cinnamon Spread (recipe below)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with muffin papers, and grease the papers. Or lightly grease a maple leaf pan.

To make the batter: Whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, oil, boiled cider or corn syrup, salt, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and milk. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add the flour and mix until well combined.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of the batter (a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here) into each muffin cup, spreading it to cover the bottom. Dollop on a heaping tablespoon of filling, then cover with another 2 tablespoons of batter. Sprinkle a little Demerara sugar over the top if you like.

If you’re using maple leaf molds, drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter into each of the 6 molds. Add a scant tablespoon of filling, and spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons batter on top. The recipe will make 16 maple leaves, so you’ll need to bake in batches.

Bake the standard muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out crumb-free. Bake the leaf muffins for 16 to 18 minutes, testing them the same way.

Remove the muffins from the oven. After 5 minutes, gently loosen the edges of the leaf muffins, and turn the pan over onto a cooling rack; the muffins should drop out. For regular muffins, simply transfer them to a rack to cool.

Apple Cider Cinnamon Spread

You will only use about 1/2 of this spread in the pumpkin muffins, but it is great to have on hand. Use it as a delicious spread for bagels or English muffins or dip pita chips or apple slices into it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cream cheese; low-fat is fine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons boiled cider

Directions:

Beat the cream cheese until it’s light and airy.

Add the remaining ingredients and beat until well incorporated.

Enjoy!

Inside Out Pumpkin Muffins filled with Apple Cider Cinnamon Cream Cheese brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Beer Sausage Gravy

October 10, 2014

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So did you ever have one of those weeks? You know the thing. That day where you wake up late and then the Starbucks dude gets your order really wrong leaving you with a cup of really expensive yet undrinkable liquid that you just stare at whilst you sit in the biggest traffic jam since cars were invented as the needle on your gas gauges sinks ever lower past E. Yup one of those days…times 5!!! I swear without going into detail, or calling specific folks out (I’m ever so tempted…), every day of that week kept getting slightly more irritating than the previous for both the husband and myself. Yup, it wasn’t just one of us who was suffering a misalignment of the stars, both of us were. So I knew that once the weekend arrived (and boy did it ever take its sweet time showing up) I would have to start it off with some seriously delicious comfort food to give us both a much-needed attitude adjustment. For those of you who have been following me, you know I just told you about some Maple Bacon Biscuits which could stop you dead in your tracks. Those were actually just the first part in operation “forget the past week ever existed”. This week was soo annoying that biscuits, not even those little treasures, couldn’t perk us up all on their own. So what was a girl to do? Well, I reached for the booze of course. A big old bottle of beer to be specific. And the bit I didn’t chug right away (I sure did…morning time be damned. It had to be after 5 some where…), I poured into the unbelievable creamy spicy batch of Sausage Gravy that I was cooking up to grace those lovely biscuits. Biscuits & Gravy.

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Wait….Maple Bacon Biscuits & Beer Sausage Gravy! Yup…that was the kind of dreadful week we had, only a combo of pork products, biscuits, gravy & beer could take its sting away. And you know…it pretty much worked. At least we cared less about it all during the time it took us to savour every delicious bite. I think we may have even licked our plates clean! So if you’re ever in need of some serious stick to your ribs, down home style comfort food, look no further. You’ll be feeling right in no time with a big old plate of Biscuits with Beer Sausage Gravy.

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Beer Sausage Gravy

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: The Owl with the Goblet

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound country-style sausage
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 3 1/2 cups milk ( at least 2% or whole)
  • 1 teaspoon “extra special sausage gravy seasoning”  (recipe listed below)
  • 3 -4 sprigs of fresh thyme (leaves only)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pinch red  pepper flakes

For Serving:

  • 8 -9 Biscuits of your choice  ( I seriously recommend those Maple Bacon Biscuits I just told you about)

Directions:

Place a large frying pan on the stove over medium high heat.  Add sausage and cook until browned. With a slotted spoon, remove sausage from the pan and set aside.  Keep grease in the pan and add the butter and allow it to melts. Slowly add the flour, stirring the whole time until a smooth paste forms. Increase heat to high, add beer slowly, whisking continuously.  Continue whisking and add milk.  Keep stirring until all lumps are gone.  Continue cooking over high heat and bring gravy to a boil. This will thicken it up a bit.

Reduce heat to low and add fresh thyme, seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (if desired for a kick).  Taste gravy and season with more salt or pepper if needed. Add sausage back to pan and stir until well incorporated. Keep warm over low heat and serve over or on the side of the biscuits.

Extra-Special Gravy Seasoning

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon roasted garlic powder

Directions:

Mix all of the spices together. Store excess spice for use the next time you need a little biscuits and gravy comfort!

Enjoy!

Beer Sausage Gravy brought to you by: Runcible Eats (https://leaandjay.com)

 


Maple Bacon Biscuits

October 7, 2014

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Maple Bacon Biscuits. Yup….probably don’t need to say anything else. I could just leave it right there, because I know I’ve already got the attention of all the biscuit lovers out there. (These are American biscuits…not the cookie variety but the big old buttery layered bready type).  The husband loves biscuits, especially breakfast biscuits piled high with eggs, sausage and hash browns.

The puppy is a biscuit fan as well!

The puppy is a biscuit fan as well!

I tell you if someone whispers the word biscuit within a five-mile radius, his ears will perk up. I’m pretty sure that’s how it is with all the biscuit-y type folks out there. And then to stick the word bacon in front of it? I’ve likely got the attention of 99% of the population at this point. Bacon makes everything taste better. Must be why nearly everyone loves it. And those folks who don’t…you might want to keep an eye on them. Definitely find them a bit suspect. And then to bring maple flavour into the mix too….What you end up with is sweet/savoury flaky perfection!

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I found the recipe for these Maple Bacon Biscuits in Deb Perlman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I absolutely love. They were very easy to make. Sometimes recipes for biscuits can get a bit fussy and obsessive, trying to get just one more micro-fraction of an inch more rise. No worries here, easy recipe with great results, which comes together quickly. The thing that takes the longest is waiting for that grease to set up I would imagine. You see, this biscuit recipe calls for a mixture of butter and cold bacon grease and instructs folks to put the grease from the bacon they just fried in the freezer to quickly solidify that fat. I just had to laugh. I have a ready supply of bacon grease in my fridge at all times. (Hey! Don’t make that face! At least I keep it in the fridge. My grandma always had it just sitting out on the ledge behind the stove.) I always save the grease when I fry up a batch of bacon. We fry all sorts of things in it later. Gives it a great salty, bacony flavour. Ever had an egg fried in bacon grease? YUM! I’ve included the instructions for readying the grease for these biscuits, but you might want to keep the bit you don’t use in the fridge for later. Don’t say no one ever told you… But back to these biscuits. They are amazing, all tender and flaky, slightly sweet  and salty and peppered with bits of bacon. Eat one hot right out of the oven, slathered with butter and your weekend will be off to a grand start indeed!

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Maple Bacon Biscuits

  • Servings: 9 Biscuits
  • Difficulty: yield
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 Cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, chilled, chopped into small chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons cold bacon grease
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) buttermilk

Directions:

Fry bacon until it is crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on a few stacked paper towels. Pour the bacon fat into a glass measuring cup so that you can see how much you have. Place your measuring cup in the freezer and freeze until fat is solid.

Chop the bacon into small bits, and place it in a small dish. Pour the maple syrup over the bacon and stir; then set the mixture aside.

Remove the solidified bacon fat from the freezer. Preheat your oven to 450 º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the four, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the butter and bacon fat over the top of flour mixture. Pulse until flour takes on a coarse meal appearance.

Place flour/butter mixture in bowl. Add the bacon/maple syrup mixture as well as the buttermilk. Blend together with a rubber spatula until dough forms. Knead just a couple of times, taking care to handle the dough as little as necessary. Pat the dough out to a 1″ thickness on a well floured surface. Using a 2″ cutter, cut biscuits, taking care not to twist cutter, but pushing straight down and then lifting. Arrange the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place baking sheet in oven and immediately turn heat down to 425º F. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until they are puffed and golden.

Serve warm slathered in butter and jam. Or maybe with something else terribly naughty and delish! Stay tuned to next posting to find out what it is!

Enjoy!

Maple Bacon Biscuits brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


Boozy Banana Crumb Cake

October 3, 2014

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You know, it is true what they say, that sometimes less is more. I mean, I’ve definitely told you how I love to make fancy pants birthday cakes for folks. And I think you might have seen some of the cupcakes I’ve fussed over in the past. Well, sometimes it is just not necessary to go through all that. Sometimes folks just want a simple little bit of crumb cake to quietly enjoy with their morning cup of tea (or coffee as the case might be…) And I think I’ve found the perfect recipe for that in this Boozy Banana Crumb Cake.

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Now when I said “simple” bit of crumb cake, you didn’t think that I meant that it wouldn’t be flavourful and delicious did you? This crumb cake has all of the usual moist buttery goodness of your traditional crumb cake, but also has the fabulous addition of banana flavour added into the mix.

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And not just plain old mashed up bananas, which don’t get me wrong, those are great. But to really enhance the flavour of the bananas and just put them way over the top, they have been caramelized under the broiler with brown sugar and rum. Yup…RUM. Rum on the bananas and rum in the cake! Just the thing to give you that extra little something to get you going in the morning huh? And being a crumb cake, this cake is topped with big buttery crumbles of cinnamon and brown sugar topped with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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So there you have it, no layers, no fluffy frosting, no fancy candy toppers. Quick and easy to make. Perfect for breakfast, mid morning snacks or with a scoop of ice cream added, a pleasing dessert. Simple home baking at its best!

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Boozy Banana Crumb Cake

  • Servings: 12 pieces - depending on how you slice it
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Ambrosia

Ingredients:

For the Bananas:

  • 3 medium ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons rum (or more, if you want… and you know you do!)

For the Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rum

For the Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled

powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Line a small baking sheet or dish with aluminum foil (for the sake of easy cleanup). Peel your bananas and arrange them on the baking sheet.  Prick them a couple of times all over with a fork. Brush the bananas with 2 tablespoons of rum (or more…), and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar on top.  Turn your broiler on high, and broil the bananas until the sugar begins to bubble and the bananas begin to burn slightly, about 7 minutes.  Keep an eye on them! Remove the bananas from the oven and allow them to cool slightly.  Dump the bananas into a bowl, making sure to scrape all that burnt sugary rum mixture into the bowl as well.  Mash the bananas with a fork.  

Preheat the oven to 325ºF, and position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Spray a 9×13″ pan with baking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups of  flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, egg, milk, vanilla extract, and rum. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing just until the batter comes together.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and set aside.  To prepare the crumb topping, in a bowl, combine the 2 1/2 cups of flour with the brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter to the flour mixture, and stir the mixture together until large crumbs form. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the prepared cake batter.  Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  

Rotate the pan at least once during the baking time.  Remove the cake from the oven, and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack before dusting the cake with powdered sugar, and cutting it into squares.

Enjoy!

Boozy Banana Crumb Cake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


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