Sunday, September 26, 2010

KOwgirl Cookies (Cowgirl Cookie Mix)

Today was my good friend's baby shower.  She's having a girl, and I thought these cookie mixes for "Cowgirl Cookies" would make a really cute party favors.  Since the mom and dad-to-be have the last name "Ko", we thought it would be even cuter to re-name them "KOwgirl Cookies."

I deviated a little bit from the original cookie mix recipe and didn't include the nuts (you never know these days with nut allergies), and changed the ratio of M&M's to chocolate chips.  The mix was layered into a dozen quart sized Mason Jars (I found them in my regular supermarket on the baking aisle), and topped with a square of bandana fabric and a pretty ribbon.

Of course, when I got home from the baby shower, I couldn't resist baking up a batch...

Cowgirl Cookies:
Dry Ingredients
1 1/3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c. rolled oats
1/3 c. pink M&Ms
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
Wet Ingredients
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  To make the cookie mix, layer all dry ingredients in a quart sized Mason jar.  (Make sure you really pack the flour down or you will not have enough space for the remaining ingredients.)

2.  Attach a label to the jar instructing:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir dry ingredients in a large bowl and add:  1/2 cup butter (almost melted), 1 slightly beaten egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, combine thoroughly.  Rill into 1 1/2 inch balls & bake for 10 minutes.

3.  To make them, dump the jar ingredients into a large bowl.

4.  Melt the butter in the microwave, mix in the egg, and vanilla.  Then pour into the dry ingredients and combine.

5.  Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

6.  Bake for 10-11 minutes.  Remove and cool 1 minute before removing from the cookie sheet to cool.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jam Tart Bars

Lately I've noticed the supermarket produce section bursting with juicy plums... giving me the sudden desire to make Spiced Black Plum Jam.  After making up a batch of jam with roughly 4 pounds of Black Plums, I realized that I didn't have enough jars for all the extra jam.  What should I do with the extra 2 cups of jam sitting in the bottom of the pot?

Using my lemon bar shortbread crust recipe as a rough guideline, I created this jam-based tart or bar recipe.  Next time I might make this recipe into little tart shells for individual jam tarts... but I was feeling lazy last night, and decided to go with an easy bar recipe so that I could line the pan with foil for easy clean up.  I used my homemade Spiced Black Plum Jam, but store-bought jam in any flavor you like would work equally well.

Jam Tart Bars:
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 c. jam (any flavor)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the butter, flour, sugar, and salt into the work bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the texture of coarse crumbs.  Reserve about 2 loosely packed cups of this mixture for topping.

2.  Line a 9 X 13 inch pan with foil (this step will make it easier to remove and cut the bars).  Dump in the crust crumbs, and press them into the pan to form an even crust.  Bake for 20 minutes.

3.  Stir the jam.  If the jam is too stiff, you may want to microwave for about 30 seconds to loosen it up.

4.  Spread the jam over the hot crust, all the way to the edges with a spoon.

5.  Top the jam with the reserved crust crumbs.

6.  Bake for 20 minutes more at 350 degrees.  Remove and cool for 5 minutes.

7.  Pull the foil out of the glass pan, and set on the counter top.  Cut into individual squares.  Store cool squares in a covered container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Austrian Sweet Poppy Seed Rolls: Mohnkranzerl aus Hefeteig

This afternoon, I felt like baking something... something new and interesting.  So I google searched for Austrian recipes, as I had Mohnkuchen (Austrian Poppy Seed Cake) in mind.  Instead, I stumbled across this recipe for Poppy Seed Bread, erroneously under the heading of "German food".  Although there are similarities, German food is not the same as Austrian food.  (Nor is Austrian food anything at all like Australian food.  Remember, there are no kangaroos in the land of Mozart!)  And this recipe is undoubtedly Austrian, from the Northwestern region of Austria, just across the Danube (Donau) River.

Now please... please do NOT buy those little tiny spice jars of poppy seeds from the spice aisle of your grocery store if you want to make this recipe.  Instead, find the international food aisle where the Indian spices are, and get yourself a large 9 oz. jar of poppy seeds (about 2 cups)... which (amazingly) is sometimes priced lower than the teeny tiny 1.75 oz. jars.  Store your poppy seeds in the freezer, as the oils in them tend to go rancid quickly.

Sweet Poppy Seed Filling:
1 1/2 c. poppy seeds (200 grams)
1/2 c. milk
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 c.)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 T. dark rum
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
Sweet Dough:
4 1/2 c. flour
1 package dried yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp.
5 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 c.)
1 egg
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 T. water

1.  Microwave the milk and butter for the dough in a large pyrex measuring cup for 2 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

2.  Next make the poppy seed filling.  Weigh out about 200 grams of poppy seeds.  By volume, this is approximately 1 1/2 cups.  Grind the poppy seeds in batches in a coffee grinder for about 30 seconds, or until they become cracked and the oils begin to come out.  You could probably do this in a food processor as well if you don't have a coffee grinder.

3.  Dump the poppy seeds into a saucepan with all the remaining filling ingredients.

4.  Cook the filling over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the texture of a thickened paste.  The mixture will become watery first, then the poppy seeds will begin to absorb some of the moisture.  Set aside the filling and allow to cool to room temperature.

5.  Now make the dough.  Sift all the dry ingredients, including the yeast, together in a large bowl.

6.  Beat the egg into the cooled milk/butter mixture from step 1.  Then, pour into the dry ingredients.  Stir together with a fork until the mixture comes together, then knead the dough for 5 minutes into a smooth ball.

7.  Loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a draft-free place for 30 minutes.  When the dough has risen, and the poppy seed filling is cool, turn out the dough onto a large cutting board.  Divide the dough in half, and and cut into 6 equal pieces.  Meanwhile, cover the undivided half with the plastic wrap.

8.  Take two pieces of dough, and roll them each out into a 2 inch by 6 inch oval.

9.  Arrange about 2 T. of poppy seed filling along the middle of each piece of dough.

10.  Fold up the sides and pinch the edges together to form a cigar.

11.  With your hands, roll each cigar into a foot long (12 inch) rope.  Be careful and make sure the rope does not unseal and leak poppy filling out.

12.  Twist the two ropes over each other into a ring.

13.  Join the ends and seal.  With practice, you will be able to manipulate the ropes to have them seal underneath so that you don't have any visible joints.  Set on an ungreased cookie sheet.

14.  Lightly brush each roll with the egg yolk glaze.  Make sure you don't allow the egg wash to pool underneath the dough, as it will burn during baking.

15.  Sprinkle with sugar and poppy seeds.

16.  Place in the oven.  After 5 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Bake for 25 minutes total.  Halfway through cooking, rotate the sheets for even browning.

Friday, September 10, 2010

F- Clam Chowder & Biscuits

Just last week I posted about how it seemed that summer was finally here... but it looks like I spoke too soon, because our 1 week of hot summer weather rolled right over into a crisp fall cold spell.  It's been so cold lately that it makes me want to eat a nice piping hot bowl of soup.

This is a really simple recipe for clam chowder that utilizes basic pantry ingredients.  To add a little extra flavor, you could saute the onions in bacon fat instead of canola oil.  (I didn't have any bacon in the house, so I settled for canola oil.)

I should tell you that while I thought this soup was great (A+), it got an F- on the David "I only like Asian food" rating scale.  Whatever.  He just hates potatoes and anything associated with it... and I must admit, potatoes are central players in the soup recipe.  If you consider yourself a potato-hater, like David, then these aren't the droids you are looking for... you can go about your business.... move along.

F- Clam chowder:
1 medium onion
3-4 c. diced potatoes
1 T. canola oil
3 T. flour
2 cans (about 4 cups) chicken broth
10 oz. can baby clams
1 1/2 c. half & half
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme
Easy Biscuits:
1 c. self-rising flour
1/2 cup half & half
1/4 c. mayonnaise

1.  Peel and dice the onion.

2.  Dice about 3-4 cups worth of potatoes.  (I used different colored potatoes... since that's what I had on hand.  But you can just use about 3 large russet potatoes.)  If you prefer a more traditional chowder, dice the potatoes smaller - I diced mine a little larger because I wanted big chunks this time.

3.  In a large pot, saute the onions and canola oil with the salt and pepper until soft.

4.  Add the flour to the pot, stir.

5.  Add the 2 cans of chicken broth and the potatoes.  Bring the pot to a simmer.

6.  Open the can of clams, and drain the liquid into the soup pot.  Chop the clams (if needed), and add to the pot.  Simmer for about 15-20 minutes on low heat, covered, until the potatoes are soft.

7.  Strip the thyme leaves from the stems, and chop.

8.  Add the thyme to the pot.  Just before serving, add the half and half to the pot.

9.  Heat the for a few minutes, but do not allow the soup to boil.  Taste the soup and add more salt and pepper if needed.  Serve with hot biscuits.
10.  To make the biscuits, heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together the flour, half & half, and mayonnaise until just combined.

11.  Spray 4 cups of a 6 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.  Divide the batter between the 4 cups, and fill the empty cups with 1/4 inch of water.

12.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove, and allow to cool for a few minutes.

13.  Remove from the muffin pan and serve with the clam chowder.