Arán Spíosraí with Irish Whiskey Glaze

March 5, 2014

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Alright! Here we go on day five of my annual St. Patrick’s Day blog-a-polooza with a recipe for Arán Spíosraí with an Irish Whiskey Glaze. Arán Spíosraí simply means Spice Bread and I think we all know what Irish Whiskey Glaze means. Isn’t that the look that your eyes take on after tasting a bit too much of your frosting recipe as you prepare it?  (Good old Jameson!) Well, in my defense, I had to make sure the recipe was good before I published it right? What kind of a cook would serve something up without tasting it? And some things require a bit more tasting than others…

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Anyhooo….This lovely quick bread can probably be thought of as more cake-like than bread-like. Quite sweet, it is chock full of chopped citron and raisins along with a veritable riot of spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice ginger – hence the name. Very versatile, this bread is great for breakfast slathered in butter, equally welcome along with your afternoon tea or can be a simple yet tasty dessert topped with a bit of fresh whipped cream. And leftovers are not a problem. It holds up well in the pantry and I think the taste even improves a bit with age. Perfect to have a loaf on standby for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

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Arán Spíosraí with Irish Whisky Glaze

recipe from: Bob Vivant

Ingredients:

For the Bread:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup candied citron, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 6 oz. Lyles Golden Syrup ( can substitute 1/3 cup honey and 1/3 cup molasses or 2/3 cup light corn syrup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk

For the Irish Whiskey Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 Tablespoons Irish Whiskey
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Line a 9×5″ loaf pan with parchment paper or grease it with butter.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Stir in the raisins and candied citron. Make a well in the center.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Remove it from the heat and stir in the brown sugar and Lyle’s Golden syrup. Beat in the egg and milk until combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. Place batter in prepared pan.

Bake for 60-70 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool loaf on a rack for 20 minutes and then remove from the pan. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and whiskey. Allow the glaze to cool for 15 minutes. Spoon the glaze into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe glaze in pattern of your choice across top of bread.

Enjoy!


Traditional Irish Pancakes for Pancake Tuesday

March 3, 2014

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Hey…wait a second! Pancakes? Weren’t you expecting Pancakes yesterday with that Flapjack post? Well here they are today. But again, they are not the pancakes you may be used to in the States. These are Traditional Irish Pancakes and tomorrow, March 4th is Pancake Tuesday! Also know as Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday depending on where you might be standing at the time, this is the last day before Lent begins. So what does that have to do with a Pancake? Well, during Lent folks were supposed to abstain from eating any luxurious or decadent foods which included milk, butter and eggs. Making pancakes along with all of their traditional toppings was a good way to use up all of these forbidden ingredients before the period of fasting began. Traditional Irish Pancakes are thinner, more like a French crêpe, than those big, fluffy, cake-like buttermilk versions so often found in America. Traditionally, you will find these pancakes topped with lemon juice and a sprinkling of superfine sugar. However I’ve also heard of folks eating them with Lyle’s Golden syrup, jellies, jams, honey or Nutella, all of which seem more decadent to me than lemon juice and sugar.

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What did I get up to with mine? Well, I just happened to have a jar of Green Apron’s award-winning Chocolate Raspberry Preserves which I had squirreled away after my last visit to Ireland. The Green Apron is a small artisan preserve company located Derryclough, Ballingarry, County Limerick, Ireland, owned and operated by my friend Theresa Storey. All of the preserves they produce are shamefully delicious, but the Chocolate & Raspberry is my particular favourite. Last year, I made some Chocolate & Raspberry Buttermilk Doughnuts with them to kick off my St. Patrick’s Day countdown. I still drool a bit when I think back to them. If you are in Ireland and would like to get ahold of a jar, you can find the Green Apron in the Limerick Milk Market every Saturday. They also do some other markets and fairs from time to time, so check their Facebook page for updates. I’m afraid The Green Apron Preserves are not being sold in the States at this time, but if you visit Ireland, make sure to pay them a visit while there. So back to my pancakes. Those Chocolate & Raspberry Preserves seemed pretty decadent to me, so I broke out the jar that I had been hoarding away and schmeared  that jammy goodness all over a pancake or two. Yum!

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Guess you could say that I’m all set now for 40 days of deprivation…or not! (just wait until you see all the decadent creations I will be blogging about for the next 14 days…you’ll know there is no abstaining going on around here!) But I’m sure you all will be behaving quite virtuously, so I’m glad you’ll be able to have your last big hurrah for a while tomorrow with these indulgent Traditional Irish Pancakes.

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Traditional Irish Pancakes

recipe from: Irish American Mom

Yield: 12 – 15 pancakes

Ingredients:

for the batter:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 oz. ( 1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 oz. (1/2 stick) butter, melted  (for frying)

toppings:

  • freshly squeezed lemon juice ( 2-3 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • jams, Nutella, Lyle’s Golden syrup, honey

Directions:

Whisk flour and salt together in large bowl. Make a well in the center.

Mix eggs and milk together until fully incorporated.

Slowly pour milk mixture into well in dry ingredients bowl, whisking all the while. Continue mixing until you have a smooth batter.

Add melted butter and continue whisking until smooth.

Heat 8″ skillet over medium high heat. Brush pan with melted butter.

Pour approximately 1/4 cup of batter into the pan. Tilt from side to side until a thin layer of batter is achieved.

Cook until bubbles appear in batter and the top starts to look a bit dry – approximately 1 minute.

Flip pancake and continue to cook for an additional minutes.

Transfer cooked pancakes to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

When ready to assemble, pour 1 teaspoon lemon juice on each pancake and sprinkle with caster sugar. Or alternatively cover pancake with toppings of your choice. Roll each pancake up and devour!

Enjoy!


Baileys, White Chocolate, Cranberry & Pistachio Flapjacks

March 2, 2014

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These Baileys, White Chocolate, Cranberry & Pistachio Flapjacks are exactly what the doctor ordered today! But wait, I just realized that I might have confused a few of you out there in the blogosphere. You’re probably looking at the photo and thinking, “What Flapjack? That’s a granola bar. A flapjack in the States is a pancake.” Hmmm…perhaps. But in Ireland, that is a Flapjack. It is funny how sometimes even though everyone is speaking English, the words just don’t mean the same thing. For instance, in college once upon what seems like one million years ago, a bunch of us gals were sitting around talking about what fashion accessories we thought looked good on guys. I mentioned that I thought guys looked good in suspenders, which was met with much laughter. Drying her eyes, one friend went on to ask me “how do you get the fellas to wear them?” Somewhat puzzled I said “You just tell them they look good in them and they’ll wear them!” Met with gales of howling laughter. O.k. I thought, what gives? Well…it turns out “suspenders” in Irish-English are a garter belt used to hold up ladies stockings. They not the things that go over your shoulders to hold up your britches, which are in fact are not called suspenders in Ireland but are called “braces”, which I thought were just the things worn on snaggledy teeth to straighten them. Tricky huh?  Another memorable Irish-English faux pas on my part was when a male friend of mine said he was heading out in his car to drive downtown and I said, “Will you give me a ride?” Yeah…that string of words means something totally different from what I intended. (I’ll just let you figure that one out on your own…) Oh well, live and learn.

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So back to the subject at hand…these little delights are flapjacks. And the ones shown here a chock full of all sorts of yumminess like White Chocolate, Cranberries, Pistachios and – be still my heart – Baileys! But Flapjacks are very versatile, you can swap in or leave out whatever you like. Anyone for dark chocolate and coconut? If you are feeling particularly healthy one day, use honey instead of golden syrup and throw in a big helping of fruit, grain and nuts. (Guess you’d have to leave out the Baileys if you were going all healthy huh? shock, horror) It’s all up to you. And me? I like the combination I’ve come up with here, especially that sea salt sprinkled over the top to give it that sweet and salty taste sensation. Only complaint is they were gone in a flash. Luckily they are quick and easy to make, so I can just do another batch. And happily I did find a great use for all those crumbly bits that were left behind in the tin. I’ve been sprinkling them over my yogurt or Skyr (for those of you who read my recent Iceland post). Delicious! Nothing like a hint of Baileys first thing in the morning to get you going!

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Baileys, White Chocolate, Cranberry & Pistachio Flapjacks

recipe adapted from: The Daily Spud

yield: 24 -26 flapjacks – depending on how you cut ’em

Ingredients:

  • 175 grams (12 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 50 grams dark muscovado sugar ( you can substitute in dark brown sugar)
  • 2 Tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup ( you can substitute in light corn syrup or honey)
  • 2 Tablespoons Baileys
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 250 grams rolled oats
  • flaked sea salt

Directions:

Line a 9″ x 9″ baking tin with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Place a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat and add the butter, sugar, golden syrup, Baileys and salt. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter and sugar have melted.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, pistachios, cranberries, and white chocolate. Make a well in the center and add the melted butter mixture. Mix until combined. Place oat mixture in baking tin and press it down with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Sprinkle flaked sea salt over pan.

Bake on middle rack in oven until golden brown, about 20 – 30 minutes. allow to cool completely in the pan before slicing.

Enjoy!


Tourte Milanese

September 6, 2013

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Wow! The summer has just flown by! I must say, I’m not sorry to see it go. Summers in Virginia are not pleasant, to say the least. And I’ve definitely determined that it is the humidity around here that makes it so intolerable. I thought I just plain hated hot weather. But I just got back from a trip to Maui. It was roughly the same temperature in Maui as it is in Virginia. Yet a Maui 89°F day felt entirely different from a swampy 89°F day in good old Virginia. I am happy to report as well that my husband and I did not spontaneously combust the moment our pale skin contacted sand. That being said, we did spend an extraordinary amount of time every morning slathering ourselves with 100 SPF sunscreen. And even with that, my husband managed to get an impressive burn on his back the second day we were there. Maui is simply drop dead gorgeous, from the mountains

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to the sea

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and we found plenty to do that did not involve any intentional sunbathing. We saw the sunrise at the top of the volcano Haleakala

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and then rode bikes twenty-one miles down to the base of the volcano,

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we went snorkeling

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and were thrilled to make the acquaintance of this huge turtle.

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And witnessed many lovely sunsets.

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Overall a great trip. But enough of that holiday talk, let me get to talking about this Tourte Milanese, which is quite a stunner itself.

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I knew the minute I saw this over at Parsley Sage & Sweet (PSS), I was going to be making it. Now I will admit, I did take some shortcuts from the recipe as listed on the PSS sight. I used store bought puff pastry. PSS gives you a great recipe if you would like to make your own puff pastry. I’m afraid I was not that motivated. Furthermore, I decided that I couldn’t be bothered to roast my own red peppers as PSS did. I simply went out and bought a couple of jars of roasted red peppers and used those. If you are one of those industrious, “everything must be homemade” kind of folks, take a look at the PSS sight for the directions. Actually you should look at the sight anyway because there are some gorgeous step by step photos of the Tourte displayed there that you shouldn’t miss out on.

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With all of my shortcuts, this Tourte was not difficult to make at all. It was a bit time-consuming, but Wowsa… just look how impressive it is. It looks like you spent all day making it. Folks won’t understand that it is mostly just assembly work, with very little actual cooking skills involved. Without a doubt it will be the star of your breakfast, brunch or pot luck supper. With all of its vibrant colours, it would make a holiday brunch all the more festive. And not only is it quite the looker, it is delicious as well! You can’t go wrong with this recipe!

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Tourte Milanese

recipe from: parsley sage & sweet

yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound store bought puff pastry, chilled.  Roll both sheets together for 1 lb, then cut off a 1/4 lb for the top of the tourte. Use any scraps to cut out designs for the top, if desired.

For the Eggs

  • 10 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh tarragon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Filling

  • 2 jars roasted red peppers
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds spinach, trimmed and washed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 8 ounces Swiss cheese or Gruyere, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces smoked or honey ham, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS:
Prepare the pastry: Generously butter an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Cut off one-quarter of the pastry, cover, and set aside. Roll out remaining puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick round. Carefully fit the pastry into the pan, pressing to get a smooth fit, leave a 1-inch overhang. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut out an 8-inch circle of dough for the top of the tourte and lift it onto a plate or baking sheet. Cover both the crust and the lid with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the filling. If using scraps for cut-out designs, like leaves, place the cut-outs on a separate plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge along with top and lined springform pan.

Make the Eggs: Whisk eggs, herbs, salt and pepper together. Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat and pour in the eggs. Gently but constantly stir the eggs around in the pan, pulling the eggs that set into the center of the pan. Slide the eggs onto a plate, without mounding them, and cover immediately with plastic wrap. You want a loose, soft scramble since the eggs will be baking for a little over an hour.

Prepare the peppers: Remove roasted peppers from jar. Cut them into the largish bite size pieces. Blot the peppers dry with paper towels before adding them to the tourte.

Cook the spinach: in a large quantity of boiling salted water for 1 minute to blanch it. Drain spinach in a colander, rinse with cold water, and press it to extract all of the excess moisture. Heat the oil, butter, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add blanched spinach and sauté for 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and add a little heavy cream. Bring quickly to the boil and stir so it mixes with the spinach. Remove the spinach from the skillet with a slotted and set aside.  Once it’s coole, squeeze as much liquid out before adding it to the tourte.

Assemble the Torte: Remove the pastry-lined springform pan from the refrigerator and layer the filling ingredients in the following order: (quick tip: Sprinkle a little dry bread crumbs or grated Italian hard cheese on the bottom of the raw crust before adding first layer of scrambled eggs to protect against a soggy bottom crust).

  • half the eggs
  • half the spinach
  • half the ham
  • half the cheese
  • all the roasted peppers, laid flat

Continue layering in reverse order;

  • remaining half of cheese
  • remaining half of ham
  • remaining half of spinach
  • remaining half of eggs

With each layer, make certain that the ingredients are spread to the edge of the pan. Fold the excess crust in over the filling, and brush the rim of crust you’ve created with the egg wash. Center the rolled-out top crust over the tourte and gently push the edge of the top crust down into the pan, pressing and sealing the top and bottom crusts along the sides. Brush the top with the egg wash and cut a vent in the center of the crust. Use the point of the knife to etch a design in the top crust, taking care to cut only halfway into the dough. Chill the fully loaded tourte for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking.

20 minutes prior to baking; position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake the Tourte: Place the tourte on a jelly-roll pan, give it another coat of egg wash, and bake it for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until puffed and deeply golden. Remove from the oven and let rest on a rack until it reaches room temperature. Run a blunt knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan and release the sides.  Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy!


Irish Coffee Scones with Whiskey Butter

March 9, 2013

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Here it is, Day 9 of my St. Patrick’s Day countdown and I think it’s time for another yummy breakfast treat. We haven’t had one since back on Day 1 when I posted about those irresistible Chocolate & Raspberry Buttermilk Doughnuts. Not that I’m opposed to the occasional slice of cold pizza, or even better, cold, left over french fries for breakfast. But I’m talking about a recipe for “official”  or ” classic” breakfast food. How about some lovely Irish Coffee Scones? Yeah, scones are perfect for breakfast. And these are for St. Patrick’s Day, so let’s do this thing up right. It’s a special occasion. Not an everyday thing. These scones have coffee, which is an essential for breakfast. And they have Baileys, I think we have established how I feel about the Baileys Irish Cream. It has been in high rotation in my recent culinary creations. So all that is missing for these to be a well-rounded St. Patrick’s Day breakfast would be a nice shot of Jameson. Oh…I’ve got it! We’ll stick it in the butter! Whiskey Butter….that’s what I’m talking about! How fantastic, Irish Coffee Scones with Whiskey Butter!

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These Irish Coffee Scones are very moist, quite tender and definitely have a pronounced coffee-y/Baileys flavour. They are very light, almost more cake-like than biscuit/scone like, perhaps due to the addition of the cake flour. They are pretty easy to make, though I will say the dough is quite sticky, so just make sure your hands and prep surface are well floured. As long as you’ve got that covered, you’ll be fine. As with all scones, make sure your butter is very cold when you cut it into the flour and once you’ve added liquid to your dry ingredients, handle the dough as little and as gingerly as possible, otherwise your scones will be tough. Make sure that you don’t forget to sprinkle sugar-in-the-raw over the top of your scones, as it gives them a really lovely crunchy texture. And oh….when serving these delectable little morsels, the Whiskey Butter is not optional. It is a requirement! Start St. Patrick’s Day off right and bake up a batch!

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Irish Coffee Scones with Whiskey Butter

recipe from: Buttercream Blondie

yield: 8 scones

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cold & cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee
  • 1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream

Directions:

Brew coffee & set aside to cool.

Combine dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Cut in cold, cubed butter.

Whisk eggs with cool coffee and Baileys.

Add to dry ingredients and mix till it comes together. This is a wet dough at first & kind of sticky.   It will come together.

Turn dough out onto a well floured surface.

Pat dough out into a circle.  You can use a rolling pin if you want, I use my hands to shape it. ( I divided the dough in half and patted each dough half into a circle, for a more petite scone. This dough is quite sticky, so make sure your surface, as well as your hands are well floured.)

Slice dough into 8 wedges (or if you have divided the dough into two halves, cut it into 4 wedges) & refrigerate until ready to bake.  Make sure the dough is cold when it goes into the oven.

Brush with heavy cream & sprinkle with sugar in the raw.

Bake at 400° F  for 15-20 minutes, rotating once halfway through.

Whiskey Butter

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Irish whiskey  (I used Jameson)
  • pinch of salt

Whip butter with whiskey and salt.

Enjoy!


Blueberry Banana Oat Bread

September 25, 2012

Yay! It is officially Autumn, my favourite time of the year. But last week, while it was still technically Summer, I bought some gorgeous Driscoll’s Blueberries. These berries were huge! Quite possibly approaching plum size, I kid you not! (well, perhaps I am exaggerating just a bit…). Anyway, I snatched them up right away and brought them home to make some as yet to be determined treat! I took the berries out of their little plastic carton, literally holding my breath, hoping that the outer berries hadn’t artfully arranged themselves as to obscur all of the moldy, yucky berries in the center of the package. Thankfully all of the berries in the carton were pristine, but I’m sure you’ve all experienced the disappointment of getting what you think is a great bunch of berries home to find that they are really a petri dish of various scary molds. I’ve always had great luck with Driscoll’s Berries, I usually buy their organic ones. They are always fresh and sweet. So that has become my brand of choice. And the folks at Driscoll’s have a great website which not only describes their business, but also provides some great berry recipes. It was there that I found this recipe for Blueberry Banana Oat Bread.

I’m always trying out different banana bread recipes and this was definitely a winner. The banana bread was very moist and had a great texture from the addition of the rolled oats. And those monster blueberries didn’t just look good, they were sweet and bursting with flavour!

A slice of this bread was great for breakfast as well as a welcome snack later in the day. And with all of those oats and berries, I’m sure it’s health benefits negate the calories! At least that’s what I’m telling myself…

Blueberry Banana Oat Bread

recipe from: Driscolls

yield: 1 loaf bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana, about 2 medium
  • 2/3 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups Driscoll’s Blueberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour.

Whisk buttermilk, eggs, banana, sugar and oil in a large bowl until well blended. Combine flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, mixing just until combined.Gently fold in blueberries. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake about 1 hour, or until browned and a pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Enjoy!


Lemon Cranberry White Chocolate Scones

September 18, 2012

I love scones! Especially the home-made ones, which put those things that a certain ever-present coffee shop sells to shame!  Scones are very easy to make, so I don’t know why I even bother with the store-bought ones. Yet every once it a while, I’m tempted while getting my morning caffeine fix and I buy one. In a moment of doubt as I’m reaching for my cash, I even think back to the last baked good I purchased there and how it really wasn’t worth the calories, much less the money. But then I convince myself that it was probably just a fluke last time and that the one that’s in the display case today look fresh. It will be different this time. But it’s not. Sad to say, the scones are always sort of stale and sickeningly sweet. What a disappointment. I should have waited til I got home, or bundled up one of my good home-made scones to take along with me for the road. I guess hope springs eternal.

I promise you these Lemon Cranberry White Chocolate Scones will not disappoint. They are just chock-full of favourites of mine, namely cranberries and white chocolate. The lemon zest gives them a wonderful fresh zing as well. Slathered in butter, clotted cream and topped with strawberries…pure heaven!

One taste of these lovelies and you’ll be ruined for the coffee shop scones. They’ll still have you for their coffee elixirs, so you shouldn’t feel but so bad for them. And one day maybe I’ll learn.

Lemon Cranberry White Chocolate Scones

recipe adapted from: The Sweet Chick

yield: 8 scones

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • heavy cream to brush over tops of scones
  • Demerara sugar to sprinkle over scones

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place flour, sugar, and baking powder in bowl of food processor. Whirr a few times to combine. Add butter to flour mixture and process until mixture resembles coarse sand. Place flour/butter mixture in large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl mix egg and milk until blended.  Add to the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Don’t overmix. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, cranberries and white chocolate chips. Mix gently. The batter will be a dough like consistency.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Divide into two equal sized portions. Roll dough out into circles which area about an inch thick. With a knife or pizza cutter, cut each of the dough circles into four equal sized  triangles.
Separate the triangles and place on prepared cookie sheet. Brush the tops of each scone with cream and then sprinkle with Demerara sugar.
Bake at 425° F for 15 minutes or until tops are golden.
Enjoy!

Dueling Muffins! White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Muffin vs. Blueberry Blackberry Streusel Muffin

July 31, 2012

So how would you like to have a freshly baked muffin every morning for breakfast? And not just any muffin, but one with your favourite add-ins. And wait, it gets better. What would you say if I said that your significant other can also have their favourite muffin, freshly baked, even if it isn’t the same flavour as yours. No, I’m not going to tell you to hire a personal chef. It’s much easier and less costly than that. The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion has shown me how this is actually possible. They have a great recipe listed for All-Star Muffins. It is a basic muffin recipe, that you are able to customize with your favourite ingredients, like apple cinnamon, peanut butter chocolate chip, carrot raisin….you get the picture. But the brilliant thing about this recipe is that once the batter is mixed, it will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator! This is a great recipe to keep handy so that you can mix up a batch of muffins the night before a big breakfast or brunch. With all of that prep work done, you can just heat up your oven and get right to baking in the morning.

But how does everyone get their favourite muffin? Here’s what I did. I mixed up a batch of the batter, then divided it in half. To the first half (my favourites) I added Rum soaked dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Right before I popped these muffins in to bake, I sprinkled some crushed pistachios over the top.

Then I took the other half of that muffin batter and mixed in my husband’s favourites, blueberries and blackberries (I’ve mentioned he is all about fruit in baked goods…) and topped them with a delicious streusel before they went in to bake.

I only baked two muffins on that first day, one for me and one for him. I took the rest of the dough, scooped out muffin sized servings and stored them in 1 cup Tupperware containers so that each morning for the rest of that week, we could just wake up, turn on the oven, make our morning coffee and tea, put two of the pre-scooped muffins (one for him one for me) in muffin tins, pop them in to bake and 20 minutes later we would have freshly baked treats! Of course you could just leave the batter in the bowls in which you mixed it and just scoop a serving out from there each morning, but room is at a premium in my fridge, so the little Tupperware containers worked out much better for us. The muffins were fantastic, moist and delicious. Though we each tried a bite of each other’s, we both insisted that our muffin was the best! Try a batch of these with your favourite mix-ins today and you can rise and shine to a freshly baked treat every morning for a week!

All-Star Muffins

recipe from: King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

yield: 16 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose or cake flour (14 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F and lightly grease 16 muffin cups or use paper liners.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a handheld or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed just until the batter is smooth. Do not over beat the muffins here if you want to keep them tender. Mix just enough to moisten the flour. Don’t worry about any small lumps you might see.

At this point decide if you wish to bake all of the muffins or whether you will be keeping the batter in the fridge to bake freshly all week. Use a muffin/cupcake scoop to fill the desired number of muffin tins and bake for 18 to 24 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the muffins from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a rack. Muffins left in the pan to cool the entire time risk becoming tough from steaming.

Customized Directions:

White Chocolate, Cranberry, Pistachio Muffins: Soak 1 cup of cranberries in 1/3 cup orange juice, water, rum or bourbon. ( I used Rum!). Fold them into the muffin batter. Fold in one cup of white chocolate chips. Garnish the top of the muffins with crushed pistachios. ***As a variation you can use 2 cups of any dried fruit like apricots, cherries, dates or raisins if you prefer and also top with any type of nut you like.

Blueberry/Blackberry Streusel: Fold 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries and 1 1/2 cup fresh blackberries into the batter. Sprinkle the tops with streusel (recipe below) before baking.

Streusel

  • 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 ounces) brown sugar, firmly packed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) soft butter

Mix together the flour, brown sugar, salt cinnamon, and butter in a small bowl, until the mixture is crumbly.

**If you are splitting the basic muffin batter to make two different types of muffins, remember to half the above add in measurements.


Blueberry Buttermilk Cornmeal Pancakes

July 19, 2012

Don’t put that cornmeal away yet! I know you just used it to make the batter up for those tasty Mini Corn Dogs. This time around it’s on the menu for breakfast in some delicious Blueberry Buttermilk Cornmeal Pancakes. Good lands, I just knew this dish would be fantastic! How could it not when its got all those great ingredients, buttermilk, cornmeal and fresh blueberries!

I had never made a cornmeal pancake before and was a bit nervous about doing so, thinking the cornmeal might make a pancake heavy. However, we really do love cornbread around here and my cornbread isn’t heavy at all. So, I gave these pancakes a try and we were not disappointed. The pancakes were wonderfully light and fluffy but had a great texture and taste to thanks to the cornmeal. Even though there were blueberries in the pancakes, we served them up with extra berries on top and drizzled with maple syrup. What a fabulous lazy Sunday morning breakfast!

Blueberry Buttermilk Cornmeal Pancakes

recipe from: Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

yield: 15 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups (7 3/4 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed

Directions:

Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla until well combined. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and gently whisk just until combined – the batter will still be lumpy, that’s what you want.

{If you aren’t going to serve the pancakes until you’ve cooked all of them, preheat oven to 200 F. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and set it inside a baking sheet then place the baking sheet in the oven.}

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet set over medium heat (you could use butter too if you’d rather). Once the oil starts shimmering, use paper towels to wipe the pan so only a thin, even coating of oil covers the bottom and sides. Use a 1/3 cup measure to portion the batter into the pan. Sprinkle some blueberries over the surface of the pancake. Cook on the first side until the edges are set and the bottom browned, about 3 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the pancakes and cook on the second side until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 more minutes. {If not serving immediately, transfer the pancakes to the wire rack in the oven.} Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan if necessary.

Serve with butter, maple syrup and/or more blueberries!

Enjoy!


Chocolate Orange Banana Rum Muffins

June 22, 2012

Chocolate Orange Banana Rum Muffins! I don’t know if these are for breakfast or dessert. (I think the answer is “yes!”) They are wonderfully moist and bursting with flavour. I was skeptical of the chocolate/orange combination for a long time. Remember those chocolate oranges? I wouldn’t go anywhere near them for years, but once I finally tried it, I was sold. I already knew that the banana/rum combination was a winner!

Throwing them all together in these muffins, well I just knew I couldn’t go wrong! Oh, and did I mention they are chock full of white chocolate as well? They sure are!

I found the recipe (sans the Rum) on Rock Recipes, a great blog from St. John’s, Newfoundland (“The Rock”), Canada – Gorgeous recipes from a gorgeous spot!

St. John’s is one of my favourite places. Jay & I try to head up there every summer to escape the oppressive Virginia heat, which is in full swing this week. It has come very close to hitting triple digits in the past two days. And oh yeah, the humidity is here as well. I tell you, I just wake up in a bad mood knowing I have to drag the poor dog out for a walk in weather like that. That’s why I need something incredibly delicious for breakfast. You know, something to sooth my summer frayed nerves after my morning stroll on the sun.

Lucky for me, my air conditioner is a real champ. It’s working overtime to cool me down so that  I can enjoy my luscious Chocolate Orange Banana Rum Muffins with a nice cup of coffee, while I dream of moving up to St. John’s next summer!

Chocolate Orange Banana Rum Muffins

recipe adapted from: Rock Recipes

yield: 20 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • zest of one orange, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons Rum
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup good quality cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
Directions:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line muffin tins with 20 cupcake liners. Set aside.
Beat sugar and oil in a bowl until well combined. Add eggs, orange zest, mashed banana and rum. Mix well.
Sift together dry ingredients and fold into banana mixture alternately with orange juice.
Fold in the white chocolate chunks.
Pour batter into lined muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center which comes out clean is the best indicator that the cupcakes are fully baked.
Place on rack to cool.
Enjoy!

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