Blueberry Crumble Bars

 - by Elizabeth


I first ate these at Quilt Night, an evening where a lot of quilters gather to stitch, trade tales and have a treat.  And what a treat this was: Laurel outdid herself. She called them “Blueberry Oat Bars” but we have since renamed them, since they remind us of eating blueberry crumble. I’ve since made them for my husband and I, a daughter and her family, a couple moving out of the area, a son and his family, and it gets rave reviews from everyone.

1 ¾ cup old-fashioned Quaker oats, uncooked
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¾ cup butter, melted

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup granulated sugar
3 T. water, divided
2 T. cornstarch, divided
2 t. lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 F.  Grease 9 x 13 baking pan.

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, nuts, baking soda and salt. Add butter, mixing until crumbly. [NOTE: I used a food processor, putting in whole nuts first and pulsing to chop them coarsely, then adding the rest of the ingredients.  With processor running, I pour in the butter, but turn it off quickly so it doesn’t pulverize the ingredients.]

Reserve ¾ cup mixture; press remaining mixture onto bottom of prepared dish.  Bake 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine blueberries, granulated sugar and 2 T. water in medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil, simmer 2 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Combine remaining 1 T. water, cornstarch, and lemon juice; mix well. Gradually stir into blueberry mixture; cook and stir about 30 seconds or until thickened.

Spread over partially baked base to within ¼ inch of edge; sprinkle with reserved oat mixture.

Press topping down into blueberries slightly.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown.  Cool on wire rack; cut into bars. Store tightly covered, or freeze.

NOTE: I doubled this, and used a rimmed bakers half-sheet to bake it in.  All times are the same; ingredients are doubled (and I still made it in the food processor).

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Orange and Ginger Chicken

 - by Elizabeth

This is the real deal–tender chicken coated with a rich-tasting orange glaze.  This recipe can be prepared in 45 minutes or less, depending on your quantities.

4 boneless chicken breast halves  (If using the giant chicken breasts from the Big Box store, slice them into smaller pieces, as in *this* recipe)
salt and pepper
all-purpose flour
1/4 stick of butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
[OPT: 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions]

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; dust with flour.  Melt butter with oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken; saute until brown, about three minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to plate.

Add ginger to skillet; stir 1 minute.  Add brown sugar and mustard and stir to blend into drippings.  Add orange juice and orange peel.  Simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.  Return chicken, and any accumulated juices, to pan.  Simmer 3 minutes.  Turn chicken over and add green onions.  Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thick enough to coat spoon, about 3-5 minutes longer.  Season sauce with salt and pepper.  Transfer chicken and sauce to platter; serve with sticky rice.

Scones

 - by Elizabeth

Best made with sultanas (or golden raisins) and served with double (aka clotted cream), these scones are a real treat.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix together the dry ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
sprinkle of salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Cut in 2 Tablespoons of butter, until pebbly.

(If adding in sultanas, use about 1/3 cup, and add them in now.)

Add 2/3 cup milk, stirring until dough holds together. Turn out onto floured board and knead five times.

Form dough into ball, flattening it slightly with rolling pin, but keeping it about 1″ to 1-1/2″ thick.  Cut into fourths.

Brush with milk and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Elizabeth Lucinda Meyers Milton’s Biscuits

 - by Elizabeth

When I was given this recipe, it was with the stipulation that I always include the full name of Candace’s great-grandmother, from whence it came.  It’s quick, flaky, and can be made with buttermilk, instead of milk, for a richer flavor.

I have also rolled out the biscuit dough into a rectangle, brushed it with butter and sprinkled cinnamon-sugar on it.  I then rolled it up, sliced it into 3/4″ slices, placing them cut side down in a buttered/greased pan: mini-cinnamon rolls! (You can glaze the mini-cinnamon rolls with some powdered sugar thinned with a little milk.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2 cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder

Stir the dry ingredients together.

Cut in 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter until pieces are the size of small pebbles.

Gradually stir in 2/3 cup of milk.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead five times, or until dough holds together well and there are no loose pieces.

Roll out to 1/2″ thickness with rolling pin.  Cut out with 2″ or 3″ round shape (or cookie cutter without small details), or use the bottom of a glass.  Place touching each other on baking sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 10-12, or until edges are slightly browned.

Cauliflower Soup with Sweet Corn

 - by Elizabeth

This is a variation of a soup from my cookbook Bowl Food, as I sort just opened the refrigerator and morphed my ingredients into a meal.  The variables you’ll need to keep track of (as they relate directly to each other) is the amount of broth you use is in relationship to the amount of cauliflower you use.  I cook the leek and garlic, then add the chopped up cauliflower.  I then add broth so it’s just covering the vegetables.  You be the judge.

1 Tablespoon oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 potato, chopped (can add a cooked. chopped, potato later in the soup, if that’s what you have in your larder: that’s what I did)
6 cups chicken stock or canned broth (3 cans)
1/2 cup cream
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 -1/2 cups sweet white frozen corn

Heat the oil in a large pot, large enough to hold all ingredients.  Add the leek and garlic, and cook over medium heat until the leek is soft, but not brown (about 6-8 minutes).  Increase the heat to high and add cauliflower, potato, chicken stock and bring just to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower and potato have softened.

Turn off heat.  Using a stick blender (or, alternatively, cool the soup and use a blender or food processor), puree the soup until smooth.  Add the cream, lemon, red pepper flakes, chives and frozen corn.  Place over heat until all ingredients are warmed, about 2-3 minutes.  Sometimes the heat of the soup will suffice.

Cauliflower Soup, served with Oyster crackers

Serve with Mary’s Retreat (homemade) Bread, or Oyster crackers, or homemade croutons, or crostini.

Serves 6-8.

Red Pepper and Orzo Soup

 - by Elizabeth

OrzoRdPepperSoup_1

Think of this as a snappier version of tomato rice soup; the amount of pasta used here is just enough to temper the peppers’ bite.  I have modified this recipe from one I found in the Washington Post.

roasting red peppers_1

before

roasting red peppers_2

after 15-20 minutes under broiler’s high heat

roasting red peppers_3

all wrapped up to steam for a while

Serve with a loaf of Mary’s Retreat Bread.

Servings: Tested size: 3-4 servings; makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups

Ingredients
1 medium shallot
1 clove garlic
5-6 red roasted peppers (directions below) ***
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for optional garnish
3-1/2 to 4 cups chicken broth (you get to determine the texture: soupy or thick)
1/2 cup dried orzo pastaIMG_3739

Spices for Soup_1 Spices for Soup_2
Spices to Taste:
wave of Arizona Dreaming, Sate, Smoked Paprika and [optional] a pinch of lemon-salt (use a shake of Kosher salt and 1 tsp. lemon rind, as substitute)
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (also called “chili” flakes)

NOTE: Arizona Dreaming is my new go-to spice.  Get yourself a jar.

Directions
Peel and coarsely chop the shallot and garlic. Prepare the red peppers by broiling the seeded, washed halves for 15 minutes under high broiler heat on a prepared pan (line with tin foil).  Wrap the whole pan in foil, and let the peppers cool while they continue to steam and melt into goodness, about 30 minutes. Alternatively, you could put them into a covered bowl, and go that route.  Peel off the blackened skins and discard.

Heat half of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the shallot and garlic. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until just softened.

Add the red peppers and broth; if your peppers weren’t soft after the broiling stage, let them cook a bit more in the hot broth until tender.  Using a stick blender, puree the peppers/broth until smooth. Add the spices listed above.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then stir in the orzo. Cook for 7 to 9 minutes or until the orzo is tender and more visible in the pot, stirring often to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Add more broth, if needed. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed, using spices listed above.  You can also add a Tablespoon of lemon juice to pop things up, if needed.

Red Pepper Orzo Soup_2

 

Also good with slices of avocado, if you like that sort of thing, or a really good sandwich.  We also added cubes of cooked ham, a carryover from another meal.

Other garnishes possible:
2 tablespoons pine nuts, for garnish
1 tablespoon grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup baby spinach
few leaves fresh basil

***COOK’S NOTE: To make this quickly, use two jars of roasted red peppers from Trader Joe’s instead of roasting up your own peppers.  Drain, then use in the recipe instead of the home-done peppers.

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice with Brats

 - by Elizabeth

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_1When you have lots of chard in your garden, or it’s on sale at the green grocer’s, it’s time to make this dish.  If you don’t add the brats and use water instead of the broth, it’s vegetarian, but we like to use Apple-Chicken sausage (we buy it at Costco) and add it to this dish.  The original recipe came from Mark Bittman, but I’ve made some modifications.

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_5 Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_4 Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_3Ingredients
1 pound (or one large handful) chard, washed and trimmed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5-6 carrots, peeled, and either sliced, or roughly chopped
1 shallot, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper (this needs more than you think)
2/3 cup jasmine rice
2 cups chicken broth
Aidell’s Apple and Chicken Sausage, 5 links
juice of one lemon

Directions
Cut the stems out of the chard leaves. Line up the stems (they look like pink celery) and slice them across the bunch, then cut the leaves into wide ribbons. Keep separate.

Put all but a tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic, shallot, carrots and chopped chard stems, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When chard/carrots are tender, add chard leaves, more salt and pepper, the rice, and chicken broth. Cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until water is absorbed (you may have to lower the heat). Add water if needed, until rice is cooked. The mixture will be moist, but not too soupy.

Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_6While those cook, place the sausage links into a non-stick pan, and over a low heat, cook until they are plump and slightly brown in places on the outside.

To finish the dish, add the juice of one lemon and a circle of olive oil, and if necessary, some more salt and pepper.  Slice the sausage/brats and pile on top of the rice/chard mixture. Braised Chard, Carrots and Rice_2

Spicy African Peanut Soup with Ginger and Tomato

 - by Elizabeth

Peanut Soup_1I first found this recipe in the New York Times; one version was by Julia Moskin and the other by Mark Bittman.  I have made this several times and combined/changed things up to suit me.  I like it because it begins with eggplant, and I always use the Japanese kind (so I can skip the salting step).  It’s a good stew to serve over some rice, on a day when you just need something flavorful and hearty for dinner.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon turmeric
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
2 medium-size Japanese eggplants, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
¼ cup good quality oil, peanut oil (if you have it)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and minced
1 onion, chopped
⅓ cup tomato paste
½ pound skinless, boneless chicken (about 2 thighs or breasts) cut into chunks
1 small (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably roasted
4 cups vegetable stock or water
½ cup natural unsweetened peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1 medium-size zucchini, 6 to 8 ounces, cut in quarters lengthwise, then sliced 1/2 -inch thick
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
2-3 cups coarsely chopped greens, such as spinach or chard
⅓ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish

Cooked rice, for serving

Chopped roasted salted peanuts, for garnish (optional)

Preparation

In a colander, toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt; set aside for 30 minutes [I skip this step if using Japanese eggplant]. Rinse, drain well and set aside. In a small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne; set aside.

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and fry, stirring often, until soft, and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and continue cooking for another 3 or 4 minutes, until just starting to turn color. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots and chicken to a large bowl, leaving oil in pot (may need to add some more). Raise heat to nearly high and add eggplant. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with shallots/chicken.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add ginger and jalapeño and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add spices and cook, stirring, 30 seconds more. Add onion and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Peanut Soup Add diced tomatoes, stock or water, eggplant, chicken, shallots and a sprinkling of salt. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Place peanut butter in a medium bowl, add one or two ladlefuls of hot soup, and stir until emulsified, then pour mixture back into soup.

Reduce heat to a simmer, add zucchini, cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender and chicken is done. Turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, chopped cilantro, greens; stir until greens are wilted. Let cool slightly and taste; add salt if necessary. Serve in bowls with rice, garnished with cilantro leaves and chopped peanuts, if desired.

Note: Can omit chicken and add 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, if desired.  Can also add 1-2 thickly sliced sweet potato (as shown in the image above).

Peanut Soup_2

Persimmons

 - by Elizabeth

Fuyu Persimmons

Fuyu persimmons are short and round, shaped just like a large tomato.  They can be eaten raw and somewhat firm, without having a bitter, astringent taste. The Hachiya variety are larger, and teardrop shaped.  Hachiya persimmons need to ripen until they are very soft.  They contain a lot of tannins when they are immature, which make them taste very astringent as well as cause severe stomach problems if a person actually manages to eat one.  As the fruit ripens the tannin level decreases, until the taste becomes very mild. hachiyapersimmons

That’s why the hachiyas (shown above, with a pointy end) make you pucker up when they are unripe!

That website goes on to note: “Fuyu persimmons can be sliced and eaten raw, when they are soft enough so that they give just a little to the touch, like a ripe tomato.  The skin is very fibrous so you will want to peel them before cutting them up.  After peeling them they will be slippery, so slice in half and put the cut side down so they are laying on the flat edge.  This way you can slice or dice them more easily.”

Some say to cook with the hichiya and eat the fuyus in salads, or raw, but one cook found that Fuyus work fine in making her Persimmon Bread.persimmonhachiya1

When I made my bread, I waited until my hachiyas were this soft–or as someone said, like pushing in on a water ballon! And I didn’t peel them, throwing the cored persimmon whole into my food processor with the ripe pears.  If one hachiya is not as ripe as the other, you can cheat by micowaving it until it is soft.  persimmonhachiya2

Alternatively, you can core them, then scoop out the jelly-like flesh. When I made my Pear-Persimmon bread, I simply cored them, then whirred the persimmon — skin and all — in the processor.  We sometimes refer to them as “persey-mons:” once when we were staying in Bologna, I asked the hotel breakfast lady what kind of tree was just outside the breakfast room.  “Persey-mon” was her reply, and so it stuck.Persimmons, sliced1

One way to serve the Fuyu persimmons raw is to core and peel them, then slice them across the width. Layer them into a shallow serving bowl.  Whisk together some white vinegar with some honey, about 2 Tablespoons of each, or until the tart-sweet taste is balanced. Test and add more honey to taste, if needed.  Pour this over the persimmons, then sprinkle with poppy seed.  This is an elegant and easy side dish.

Another recipe I found (untested by me) is to make a salad using spinach leaves as a base.  First, start by making a vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil

Mix the rice vinegar, orange juice, honey and sesame oil in a small bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking vigorously to emulsify the ingredients.  Lay down some spinach leaves, then the cored and sliced persimmons.  Sprinkle with toasted pecans, and dried cranberries, then pour the vinaigrette over all. (If you use 2 persimmons, it will serve 4 people.)