Thursday, September 29, 2011

Local Media Features Honey! (and recipes)

Two recent articles in local media highlight area honey.  Check out Kate Chynoweth's article in Pittsburgh Magazine, which features Master Beekeeper, Steve Repasky;  a nice discussion of local honey varieties; and a great recipe for honey goat cheese spread with Fuji apples.

And in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, last week,  Bob Batz offers some wonderful apples and honey recipes, just in time for Rosh Hashana.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Honey Date Bread--Great for Lunches!

Melissa Clark's "A Good Appetite" column in the New York Times is often a source of great recipe ideas.  In the link above, she offers some great sandwich suggestions for pack-able lunches and includes a recipe for Whole-Wheat Date Bread.  I adapted it, using a bit more honey and a little less olive oil.  The texture is a bit grainy, but if you wait a day and then slather a slice with cream cheese...well, it's to die for!  I generally bake quick breads in a 9 inch x 2 inch tube pan, which seems to help with the problem of over-baked tops before the center sets.

Whole-Wheat Date Bread
1/2 cup white sugar (or brown sugar)
2/3 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons summer honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup sliced, pitted dates

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan (or a 9 inch x 2 inch tube pan).  Whisk the sugar, yogurt, honey and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Add the eggs, one at a time an mix well.  In a separate bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, soda and salt.  Add to the sugar/yogurt mixture and combine just until there are no more traces of flour.  Fold in the olive oil and then the dates.  Pour into prepared pan and bake about 50-55 minutes if using a loaf pan (or 40-45 minutes if using a tube pan).  Check halfway through and tent with tinfoil if crust becomes too brown.  Let rest for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Melissa Clark suggests using this bread to make a sandwich of cream cheese and sliced grapes or cream cheese and black olives.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Honey-as-Seasoning for Fall Harvest Bounty!

Back-to-school means were slacking on our blog posts, folks.  My apologies to those who have a hankering for honey recipes and need more ideas!

In these two recipes, the honey acts almost like a seasoning, rather than a main ingredient.

Peaches, Figs, Maytag Blue Cheese & Honey
Our dear friends, Jeff and Laurie, made time in the midst of canning tomatoes to feed me dinner last week. They asked me to bring a seasonal fruit side dish or dessert, and this is what I made.  I would work as a nice "first course," side dish, or--as we used it--dessert. It received rave reviews from Jeff, Laurie and bonus guests, Beth and Steve, who stopped by on their way home from a trip to Chicago.

Two, large-ish fresh peaches, peeled. (McConnell's Farm peaches are amazing!)
Four fresh figs, washed
4 oz Maytag blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
2-4 tablespoons summer honey
Just before serving, slice the peaches into 1/2 inch wedges and place in a bowl.  Cut off the stem of the figs, and quarter or "sixth," and add to bowl, and gently toss.  Crumble blue cheese over the fruit.  Add almonds and drizzle honey over top.  Gently toss and serve.  Serves 5-6 (but you might want to add another peach if you're serving six).

Baked Tomato & Cheddar Cheese Pasta
Jeff and Laurie roast their tomatoes before canning them, and gave me the idea for this casserole.  I'll confess that it doesn't look very pretty--it's definitely for a week-night family meal.  Yet it has a pleasing, comfort-food flavor and is a great use of end-of-the-season plum tomatoes.
6-8 medium fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and diced (you could use a 14-oz can of whole tomatoes)
1/2 cup diced sweet onion (like Vidalia)
4 oz sharp yellow cheddar cheese, diced in 1/2 inch dice
2 oz sharp yellow cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound dry pasta  (I used medium shells, you could use any smaller size cut pasta)
2 tablespoons summer honey
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped (you could substitute fresh oregano or basil)
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil a casserole or 8x8 square baking pan.  Boil pasta in salted water for about 4 or 5 minutes less than the package directs.  The pasta should be pliable, but not quite al dente, so it will soak up the tomato juices.  Place the tomatoes, onions, diced cheese & pasta in casserole and toss to combine.  Stir in honey, thyme, salt & pepper. Taste and add more seasoning if needed.  Sprinkle grated cheese on top and bake for about 30 minutes. The cheese should be thoroughly melted in to the dish and it should be bubbling. Let sit for 10 minutes so that the pasta absorbs the cheesy-tomato-y juices.  Serves 4.