Category Archives: foodies!

Desserts, tried and true

I hosted a going away party for our outgoing pastor last Monday. Who knew you could get 40 people in my house? There were six of us on the committee; we were each charged to supply a dessert and two bottles of wine. Being an overachiever, I made two desserts. The recipes have been here on the blog before, but I’m posting them again as things that are simple and that can go on a picnic or sit out on a buffet for a while and still look good! (This is not the time for homemade ice cream.) I like to experiment and try new things, but sometimes you need to go for the reliable old standards.

I baked a blueberry cobbler, which actually works well for a picnic dessert, too. Although I like it best with vanilla ice cream, a can of aerosol whipped cream will do in a pinch.

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These are not blueberries from my garden. Mine are close, but they’ll be ripe in the next week or two. Store bought was the next best thing.

This is my favorite cobbler recipe. It’s fabulous with fresh berries, but I also make it with frozen berries from my garden throughout the year. If you use frozen berries, it will take an extra 10 minutes or so to bake. (Shout out to my friend Vickie, who sent me this recipe in 1986, when we still wrote letters via snail mail. I had just moved away to New York. I showed her the letter last month, and it really startled her that I still have it. It’s on my fridge.):

Berry Cobbler

For the batter:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 TBSP butter (I admit that I misread her 4 as a 9, and have been using 8 TBSP, or 1/2 cup, of butter. Yum. 6 is a good compromise.)
3/4 cup sugar (I reduce to 2/3 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
3 cups berries

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla; beat in egg until blended. Add flour mixure and milk–beat only until smooth. Spread in buttered 8 inch square baking dish; scatter berries on top.

TOPPING:
1/4 cup soft butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour

Combine topping ingredients and beat until smooth. Drop teaspoonsful of topping over berries. Bake @ 350 degrees for one hour–toothpick should come out without batter, and top is golden. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, or both. Yields 9 servings, because I cut things in grid patterns. I can’t help myself.

I also made chocolate chip shortbread and cut it into 36 bite sized pieces. This is an old picture, so these are not the 36 squares!

shortbread

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips or butterscotch chips (I used mini chocolate, but I’ve also used butterscotch)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and salt, and then beat these with the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in chips. Press into an ungreased 9 inch square pan.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool 20-30 minutes in pan on wire rack.

Score shortbread with sharp knife into desired size servings, but do not cut all the way through. Invert onto rack and cool completely. Break into pieces.

What are your go-to dessert recipes?

Obligatory knit content: Still knitting away on my Garland shawl. Repeat 12!

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Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet

My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of the migration of yarnies to Columbus, Ohio today. They say they’re heading there for TNNA, The National Needlearts Association summer trade show. But I think they’re equally excited to be in close proximity to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. I first encountered Jeni’s when I went to TNNA last year. I was hooked. I went to Jeni’s every day!

The kids gave me an ice cream maker last Christmas. Was it a gift for me, or a gift for them? Hmmm. I don’t use it a lot, but I love it when I do.

The first thing I made with it was Bourbon Vanilla ice cream, which was their ulterior motive for this gift. It turned out great; we put it in profiteroles.

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This outing, we made Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet using Jeni’s recipe. It tastes just like a ripe pear, even with riesling in it. Delicious. (And do you sense a theme?) This was my favorite flavor in Columbus.

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I used Anjou pears, and Brooks Winery‘s Tethys, a late harvest riesling. The wine was probably nicer than it needed to be, but drinking the rest of the bottle was great! (I did have help.) Here’s the recipe. (Thank you, Jeni, for allowing me to post this.)

Riesling-Poached Pear Sorbet
A surprisingly rich sorbet with the texture of a ripe pear; sweet Riesling notes shine on the finish.

This flavor works well even with underripe pears—you just have to poach them a bit longer. If your pears are superripe and juicy, you won’t need to poach them for more than a few moments.

Pairs well with: Cocoa Zin Ice Cream with palmiers and whipped cream.

Makes about 1 quart

6 medium Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, or Comice pears (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Riesling
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup

COOK
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking for 5 to 8 minutes, until the pears are soft. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

CHILL
Puree the pear mixture in 2 batches in a food processor until completely smooth. Force through a sieve.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

FREEZE
Pour the sorbet base into the frozen canister and spin just until the consistency of very softly whipped cream.
Pack the sorbet into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Excerpted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan Books). Copyright 2011.

This is a fabulous book, full of innovative flavors. On to the next flavor! I’m missing TNNA, but my ice cream fix is here…

Shortcake, and yarn

I’m still between projects, trying to decide if I’m going to start something before the Garland KAL cast on Monday. I want to have the right needles free when it’s time to start!

The yarn is definitely ready. There was a drive-by yarning here Wednesday.

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My Peacock and Janet’s Moody Blues. And the beads I bought at Shipwreck?

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They look to be a perfect match. I have way more than enough. There are about 150 beads per strand, and I have 6 strands. I don’t know if you can tell, but the beads are clear, with a peacock lining.

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There is still time to join the KAL; we don’t cast on until Monday. The coupon code for the discount on the Garland Shawl pattern is GarlandKAL. Join us! And if you’re local in Portland, join us at Twisted this Monday evening from 5-7 for a cast on party.

What else is occupying my thoughts?

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Strawberry shortcake. (Please excuse the lighting; it was late at night.) Local strawberries are just coming into season, but I haven’t had any yet. I’ve been making do with California berries. Let’s just say I’m practicing for the real thing. Here’s my current shortcake recipe. They’re like my scones, only more butter, and no egg. Crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, especially when they’re still warm from the oven. They also reheat well in the toaster oven.

Strawberry Shortcake
serves 8

2 pounds fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
2 tablespoons sugar (or more, to taste)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or both

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together the strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and 3 T sugar. Cut the butter into pieces and then blend them into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Combine milk and vanilla and add to flour mixture; stir until just combined.

Using your hands, gently divide mixture into 8 equal size balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 – 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Cool on a rack, just a bit. To serve, split a warm shortcake in two, and serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or both.

What’s your favorite summer dessert?

Sometimes, ya just gotta…

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We don’t have a big Easter celebration at our house, but I was going to a friend’s house this afternoon, and then we’re having a Game of Thrones watch party at our house this evening. What could be more appropriate than beheading…a Peep?

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My friend Carole and I put these together this afternoon, using these instructions and then just winging the rest. Cute, huh?

I also made lemon bars and chocolate chip shortbread, so it wasn’t all fun and games.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it, and happy spring to the rest of the northern hemisphere!

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And for those of you down under, it’s time to start knitting woolies. Everybody wins!

perfect bourbon vanilla ice cream

My (adult) kids gave me an Cuisinart ice cream maker for Christmas. Perhaps it was a self-serving gift, but I thought it was inspired. I’ve used it several times since then, in an effort to perfect a bourbon vanilla ice cream recipe. Here’s my version of perfect.

Perfect Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

6 egg yolks
1 pint heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/3 cup bourbon (taste it and see how boozy you want it)

Directions:
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat cream, milk, half and half, and sugar just to a boil.
Separate egg yolks to a large heat-proof bowl. Slowly add 2 cups of the hot cream mixture in a thin stream to the yolks while constantly whisking. (This tempering keeps the yolks from curdling when they meet up with the hot cream.) Whisk the tempered egg yolks back into the pan of remaining hot cream mixture, and simmer for two more minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.

Add vanilla, then bourbon, stirring constantly. Start with 1/4 cup bourbon, and add a little more until it tastes just the way you want it. I used just over 1/4 cup.

Cool over an ice bath, or in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours. Process in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. You may need to chill it further in the freezer after processing, as it can be quite soft, even after processing. Servings: 6 to 8 servings, or more, depending on how you use it.

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I used my first ice cream attempt for profiteroles, using this recipe for shells. I’d halve the recipe next time, and make them smaller/cuter and serve them in a trio, drizzled with chocolate truffle sauce.

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My second ice cream attempt had a firmer texture, but wasn’t sweet enough, and too bourbon-y. It’s still in the freezer. Third time’s a charm! I used it for ice cream sandwiches using those ubiquitous thin ginger cookies you see during the holiday season, and drizzled them with chocolate truffle sauce. They need to go back in the freezer to firm up after making them, so leave yourself a couple hours before serving.

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Oh, that chocolate truffle sauce? You’ll find the recipe here.

Back to my knitting!

Merry Christmas!

I finished my Silver and Gold KAL project. It wasn’t the lovely silvery yarn from Knitted Wit. I decided to knit another Hoppy Blonde Webfoot for a UO Duck fan, instead. Gold! And I finished a couple days go. It’s blocked and wrapped, and waiting to be gifted. No picture, though; it was dark when I wrapped.

I also gave my Madelinetosh Pashmina Filigree to a dear friend. Two knit gifts, and only one on deadline. Perfect.

filigree curiosity

If you participated in the KAL and would like to enter the drawing for a yarny prize, please contact me by Dec. 31 to let me know. I saw the pattern sales go out, but haven’t heard from you! It’s been a busy month, I know.

We started our Christmas Day with mimosas and Cinnamon Roll Waffles. After seeing this on the web, we had to try it. They were pretty tasty!

cinnamon roll waffles

Wishing you a peaceful day. How are you spending it? We’ll be having 14 at dinner tonight. Prime rib is in the oven and smells heavenly already…Mookie can’t wait!

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Keeping it organized…

FO pic! Here’s my sister with her Webfoot Scarf, hot off the needles.

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Christmas was great, lots of family and friends. The kids gave me a Cuisinart ice cream maker, so tonight we had bourbon vanilla ice cream profiteroles with chocolate truffle sauce and bourbon caramel sauce. It was beyond delicious.

profiterole

Coming down to the end of 2012. It’s been a good year, lots of travel and knitting. Sometimes both at the same time! I’m looking forward to what happens next for PDXKnitterati. I have a few deadlines to meet, design-wise. How do you keep yourself organized? I like lots of lists. And for my knitting, there’s this:

get organized

A different silk taffeta bag for each design project. All the bags go into my favorite around the house basket, Bindi by Lantern Moon. I think it’s been discontinued, but I love the size of this.

basket

What’s next on your knitting radar? Do you have a selfish project lined up for January after gift knitting through December? I’m having a pattern sale on Ravelry; all of my patterns there are 20% off through January 5. The coupon code to enter is MeMeMe as in, it’s all about ME (which really means you). Thank you for reading and knitting!

Winter Jam

Summer has always been jam season for me. A big boiling water bath canner, a hot kitchen, delightful summer fruits turning into jewel-like preserves to spread a little sunshine during the winter. But then I came across a recipe for Pear Cranberry Jam on the Food in Jars blog. Winter jam? Yes!

Not being one to leave well enough alone, I decided my jam needed some add-ins. This time, it’s cinnamon and bourbon. It turned out great.

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What? Your bourbon doesn’t wear a sweater? My son gave me this sweater for my Maker’s Mark bottle last year. See, this *is* a knitting blog!

Cranberry/Pear/Bourbon Jam

4 cups cored and chopped pears (I left the skins on)
4 cups fresh cranberries
3 cups sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1/4 cup bourbon

Combine chopped pears, cranberries, sugar cinnamon, lemon juice and zest, and water in a large pot. Stir to combine and let it rest until the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 10 minutes.

Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer for 15-25 minutes or longer, stirring regularly, until it thickens. Add bourbon, and continue cooking until jam coats spoon without running off.

Ladle jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 5 half pints. (If you need more thorough instructions for processing, go to Food in Jars! I’m assuming that you know how to jam.)

This is delicious. The bourbon is subtle, but there, for a little winter warmth. If I do this again, I’ll add 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger, too, for a little kick. (I put too much ginger in last summer’s plum jam, so I’d be conservative this time.) I actually doubled the recipe, so the pot was really full, and it took quite a while to cook down to a nice jammy consistency (probably about 40 minutes?), but when it started to coat the spoon nicely, I decided it was done. This was also the first time I’d made jam without using added pectin, and I liked the process. It took longer, but I could better see how the jam is going to set up.

The best part of this jam session? Vickie invited me to cook at her house, so she made rugelach cookies while I made jam, and then we had some time to knit and catch up, too. Her cat Olive was very helpful.

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Good things come in jars! I came home from the gym this morning, and Tammy had dropped off some goodies for me. I was overrun by gifts of citrus fruit last winter, and offered some to her because she wanted to make marmalade and citruscello. A perfect trade.

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Back to knitting…Don’t forget, the Silver and Gold Filigree KAL kicks off properly on Friday at Twisted, or right now on the blog and Ravelry. Come knit with me! When we’re done, I’ll have a random drawing for a skein of fingering weight yarn as a prize. Finish a Filigree or Webfoot scarf by December 25, and you’ll be in the drawing.

What’s cooking at your house?

Liège or Bruxelles?

Waffles, that is. I was answering Elizabeth’s comment about food last night, and suddenly I started thinking about waffles. Belgian waffles. Gaufres, as they’re called in French. Or Gophers, as DH would say. But I digress.

They come in two basic styles: Bruxelles (Brussels), which are lighter and served with powdered sugar, or nutella, or ice cream, or whipped cream, or all of the above, and Liège, which are denser, with a caramelized sugar crust that comes from pearl sugar that cooks through the dough and caramelizes against the waffle iron. These are great as is, or with the previously mentioned toppings. I prefer these to the lighter Bruxelles waffles which seem to cry out for toppings, and which were more common in Paris.

(By the way, Elizabeth is one of my favorite food bloggers. So cool when I found out that she’s local!)

I started googling Liège-style waffles last night. I was still thinking about them this morning. After going to the gym, I coerced convinced my gym buddies to go to the Waffle Window.

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I had a lovely waffle, plain, as it should be. It wasn’t quite as dense as the one we had in Bruges, nor quite as coated in caramelized sugar, but it was delicious.

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My friends each had this. I can’t remember what it was called, but it had sliced pear, raspberries, chocolate, and whipped cream. I believe this may have negated the benefits of the gym. It’s close.

Have you tried either of these styles, Liège or Bruxelles? Do you have a preference? What else are are you craving these days?

Almost Lemonade

So, I was trying on my Raspberry Vodka Lemonade, and I thought one of the sleeves looked shorter than the other. Not by much. I took a closer look, and this is what I saw:

sleeves

Apparently I missed 2 rows of the lace pattern. Oops. I don’t mind ripping back. While I’m at it, I’ll rip both of them back to make the sleeves a little shorter. They’re supposed to be 3/4 length, but I think they’re a little too long, so they just look like they’re too short.

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vl 2

I’ve rolled them up here, and I think I like them better. What do you think?

It’s plum season at Lorajean’s house, and she gave some to me.

plums

I made two batches of ginger plum jam. The first was with all yellow plums, and the second was mostly yellow with a few purple. It doesn’t take many to completely change the color!

jam

As with last year’s batch, the jam hasn’t set yet (although the non-processed sample jars have gelled nicely). I’m not worried; last year it took several weeks before the jam was a properly jammy texture. I do know that both of them are delicious!