Friday, August 30, 2013

Honey Chocolate Brownie Bites

With back to school upon us, I thought a cookie for lunch boxes or after school snack might be in order. These cookies are about as close as you can get to eating a "raw" cookie dough cookie (without it actually being raw). They are very soft and have the consistency of a chewy brownie.  They were a big hit among potluckers dining here a few weeks ago.  The recipe comes from the July 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. The original recipe, called "Double-Chocolate Brownie Bites," includes 7 ounces (1 1/2 cups) of semisweet chocolate coarsely chopped, but as I've mentioned on the blog before, Robert hates chocolate chips, so I left them out.  No one missed them and truth be told, I think the chips would have taken these cookies over the top (and not in a good way).   The cookies puff up and their tops crackle--a sign they're ready to pull out of the oven.  When they cool, they flatten back down again.

Honey Chocolate Brownie Bites
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 325.  In a medium size bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, soda and salt and set aside. Beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until very fluffy--about 3 or 4 minutes.  Add the honey and beat again until fluffy and light.  Lower the speed and slowly add the flour/cocoa mixture until very well combined.  If you're adding chocolate bits, now would be the time to do that.  Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes (this will make them easier to form into small balls).

Take about a teaspoon of dough and roll it into a ball--aiming for a little less than the size of a walnut.  Drop the balls into the granulated sugar and roll again.  Place the sugar-coated balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing about 1 inch apart.  Bake for about 9 minutes until the tops are puffed and cracking and just set.  Cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or so then transfer to a cooling rack.  Makes about 30 and the cookies will keep at room temperature in an air-tight container for about three or four days.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mom's Famous Coleslaw--now with honey! :)

Mom's Famous Coleslaw (Photo courtesy of Dad!)
My gold standard for coleslaw is my mother's recipe--finely shredded cabbage and carrots with a tangy yet slightly sweet mayonnaise dressing.  We request it as a side dish just about every time we get together.  I was getting ready to post another coleslaw recipe to the blog that I made for a recent gathering and wanted to include Mom's, too.  (You really gotta try it!)  That's when I learned that my dear momma doesn't really follow a recipe.  Ah!  But she generously agreed to make a batch and try to track what she does.  This time, instead of adding a pinch of sugar, she added honey--we all thought it was delicious!  Thanks Ma!

I'm including here the other coleslaw recipe I made at the gathering to go with hamburgers and veggie burgers.  The cabbage is thinly sliced rather than shredded and the recipe includes some unique ingredients (cucumbers and fresh tomatoes) that set it apart.  If you like your coleslaw crunchy & shredded, rather than finely grated, this should do the trick.  It's a Lucinda Scala Quinn recipe called Tangy Sweet Coleslaw from the August 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living.  

Mom's Famous Coleslaw--now with Honey!
1/2 small head of cabbage, finely grated
2 carrots, finely grated
a little onion (a tablespoon or two), finely grated
1/4 cup (maybe more) mayonnaise (don't even THINK about using Miracle Whip!)
a capful of cider vinegar (from a quart bottle)
a soup spoon of honey
Combine the grated cabbage, carrots and onions in a bowl. Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar and honey and pour over the vegetables and combine.  Add some more mayonnaise if you think you need it.  4-6 servings (with no leftovers!)

Honeyed Coleslaw
1/2 a large head of cabbage, thinnly sliced
2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 small carrots, grated
2 small (or 1 medium) tomatoes, seeded and cut in a 1/4 dice
1/2 seedless cucumber, cut into 1/4 dice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
coarse salt and pepper to taste
Place the shredded cabbage in a strainer and place over a bowl..  Toss the salt with the cabbage, being sure to even distribute the salt throughout and let the cabbage sit over the bowl for about an hour.  This will soften it a bit and it will reduce a little.  Rinse the cabbage and pat dry with a non-terry cloth kitchen towel.  Place the cabbage, carrots, tomatoes and cucumber in a bowl and toss to mix well.  In a smaller bowl, whisk the yogurt, mayonnaise, honey and vinegar together until well blended.  Pour this over the cabbage and other vegetables.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and chill for at least two hours.  This can be made up to one day in advance (though truth be told, we've been eating the leftovers for a few days!).  When ready to serve, stir well to be sure the dressing is evenly distributed.  Makes 8 generous servings.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fresh Tomatoes! Two Recipes!

Tomato Sandwich with Sourdough Cornmeal Bread
The tomatoes in our garden took their time ripening this year, but we now have baskets full to enjoy before the late blight knocks them out for good. (A friend and colleague recommends using a copper sulfate to prevent blight, which we'll try next year!)  My favorite way to eat fresh tomatoes is as a simple tomato sandwich.  Brings back memories of watching my Grandmother Wood prepare tomato sandwiches:   thin slices of  Pepperidge Farm white sandwich bread slathered with mayonnaise, topped with thickly sliced tomatoes and an ungodly amount of salt.  I'm almost positive Grandma peeled the tomatoes since she peeled everything (even celery).  Made a mean BLT, too!

The first recipe here is for Sourdough Cornmeal Bread, which isn't as delicate as Pepperidge Farm white bread, but makes a great sandwich bread with a nice, nutty crunch.  Thinly sliced, it's perfect for tomato sandwiches.  Our dear friends (and recent visitors) Rebecca, Tom and the amazing going-on-3 Eleanor enjoyed some of this bread toasted with honey during their visit.  This recipe's for you, Rebecca! :)

The other recipe for fresh tomato slices is adapted from a recipe in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Brenda Waters's Grandmother's Special Sliced Tomatoes. (Grandmas really seem to know their way around tomatoes!)  I hesitate to add anything at all to a nice, fresh tomato slice, but this recipe was too intriguing to pass up--and it's delicious.  A friend who doesn't even like honey (yes we actually have friends who don't like honey!) liked these tomatoes.  Read on for the recipes!

Sourdough Cornmeal Bread for tomato sandwiches
Sourdough Cornmeal Bread
This recipe is adapted from Sunset's A Cookbook of Breads (1974), which I must have picked up at a thrift store ages ago. It requires sourdough starter, which isn't hard to make--just takes about a 3 to 5 day commitment.  Need a sourdough starter recipe? Here are step-by-step instructions from King Arthur flour. Also check out this quick starter recipe from a previous blog post for sourdough English muffins.

1 teaspoon (1/2 package) quick rise yeast
1/2 cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water
1 cup cornmeal (plus extra for sprinkling on dough before baking)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1-2 cups bread flour (you could use all-purpose flour if you want--and could also skip the whole wheat flour.  You'll get a slightly less dense loaf if you do).

Combine the yeast, starter, canola oil, honey, salt, water, cornmeal and whole wheat in a mixing bowl.  Using a wooden spoon (or the dough hook of a mixer), combine well.  Add the white flour, about a 1/2 cup at a time until a stiff dough forms. Knead the dough until it's smooth--by hand (on a floured board) for about 10 minutes or by mixer for about 5.  (Using a mixer will likely cut down on the amount of flour you use overall, making the dough a bit lighter.)

Lightly coat a large bowl with oil and place dough in the bowl, oil top and cover with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel (not terry cloth).  Let rise for about 1 1/2 hours in a warm spot until it doubles in bulk.  Remove from the bowl, folding the dough in on itself a few times and form into a round ball (or boule).  Place a sheet of parchment paper on a flat-sided cookie sheet and sprinkle it with a little corn meal. Place the dough on the sheet and sprinkle a little cornmeal on top.  Cover with the plastic wrap and kitchen towel and let rise for another 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven on a middle rack to preheat as well.  When the oven is preheated and the dough has risen, take a serrated knife and make a few slashes in the top (each about 1/4-1/2 inch deep).  Slide the dough (with parchment) from the cookie sheet onto the baking stone (if you're using a stone) or just put the cookie sheet with dough into the oven.  Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes.  The crust should be nicely browned--almost honey colored.  The crust will be crunchy when first baked, but will soften once it cools. (You can crisp the crust by reheating in the oven if you'd like). You should probably wait until it cools completely to slice it, but I've never been able to wait that long!

Sliced tomatoes with vinegar honey dressing

Sliced Tomatoes with Vinegar and Honey
4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled
2 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
kosher salt
Core and slice the tomatoes in 1/2 inch slices.  Place on a plate or platter with a lip (so that the dressing doesn't run off!). Stir the vinegar and honey together in a small microwaveable bowl. Heat for 15 seconds, just to warm the mixture and ensure that it's well combined.  Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and drizzle the vinegar-honey mixture on top.  Serve with the bread to soak up all of those delicious juices!
Serves 4

Friday, August 9, 2013

Garlicky Chickpea Salad

This is a refreshing summer salad that would make a substantial lunch with some crusty bread on the side or nice addition to a cookout.  It puts all the lovely herbs that are burgeoning in the garden now to good use. You can add just about any vegetable you like--since it's tomato season, some nice fresh cherry tomatoes if you have 'em would be great, as would some crunchy celery, or some kalamata or green olives.  You could also add 1/2 cup or so of crumbled feta cheese.  If you're not so keen on a strong garlic flavor, you could saute the garlic before adding to the dressing, but then you'd have to call the salad something else!

Garlicky Chickpea Salad
1 medium to large garlic clove, peeled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans--if you're using canned, you could get away with one 14 oz can of chickpeas, but then I'd bump up the veggies a bit)
1/2 red pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 English (seedless) cucumber, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2-3 scallions, sliced in 1/4 inch rings
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
4-5 basil leaves, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Using the side of a knife, smash the garlic clove on a cutting board, sprinkle the salt on it and continuing to use the side of the knife, mash the garlic and salt into a pulp.  Add this to a small bowl, or jar with a tight fitting lid or to a small food processor.  Add the vinegar, honey, mayo and oregano and whisk, shake or whirl to thoroughly combine.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil (or shake or whirl) until the dressing is fully emulsified.  Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and pour the dressing over it and stir to coat the beans.  Let the chickpeas marinate in the dressing, stirring a few times, for about 30 minutes.  Add the vegetables and herbs and toss to combine.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  If you like, chill the salad for about an hour before serving, but it can be served at room temperature, too.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Honey Ice Cream and Bonus Recipe! Beekeepers' Fan-Favorite Rhubarb Dessert by Christy!

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's weekly food section often includes great recipes using honey and their July 25, 2013 issue was no exception.  Melissa McCart's article on "extreme ice creams" included a thyme-infused honey ice cream that I made here, with a few changes.  The first is that the original recipe seems to call for 2 teaspoons of salt, which is way (way!) too much (think it must be a typo).  I cut that back to 1/2 teaspoon.  I also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract to help bring out the honey flavor.  Next time I make this, I'll use lavender or basil or mint  instead of thyme (less extreme, but much more delectable!).

And keep reading!  Christy shared the recipe for her award-winning rhubarb dessert that took the fan favorite prize at the Burgh Bees & Beaver Valley Beekeepers' Association annual picnic this year.  Thanks, Christy!

Fair warning:  the recipes in this post aren't for those on a diet! :)

Honey Ice Cream
Published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on July 29, 2013 and adapted from Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book by Jake Godby & Sean Vahey.  I've adapted further!

1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon fresh herb, minced (basil, mint or lavender recommended)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks

Combine the honey and minced herb in a bowl and let it infuse for at least two hours or overnight.  Fill a large bowl with ice, place a smaller bowl inside the larger bowl and then fill the larger bowl with water to make an ice water bath.  Place a strainer on top of the smaller bowl in the middle.  In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk and salt and, stirring occasionally, bring to just under a simmer--don't boil!  In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs.  Whisking constantly, gradually pour about 1/2 of the cream mixture into the eggs and then transfer the egg/cream mixture back to the sauce pan and turn on medium heat.  Using a rubber spatula, stir constantly, being sure to get the bottom and sides so that the mixture doesn't scorch.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the custard coats the spatula and begins to steam--again, don't let this boil.  Remove from heat and stir in the honey/herb mixture, combining well.  Pour the mixture through the sieve over the bowl set in ice water and let cool, stirring occasionally.  When cool, refrigerate the custard for at least two hours (or over night).  When the mixture is very cold, put it in an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.  When processed, place in a separate container and freeze until it solidifies.  Makes 1 quart.

Beekeepers' Fan-Favorite Rhubarb Dessert by Christy
Haven't had a chance to make this myself yet, but had a taste at the picnic and it's creamy and delicious--a great use of rhubarb!  It comes from the April/May 2008 issue of Taste  of Home magazine called Cool Rhubarb Dessert by Maxine Smith.  Christy adapted the recipe so that it uses honey.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
4 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 cup minature marshmallows
1 1 /2 cups cold milk
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding
1/4 cup flaked coconut, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, butter and walnuts and press into an ungreased 13x9 inch pan.  Bake for 20-25 until lightly browned.  Cool while making filling and topping.

In a large saucepan, combine the filling ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about five minutes or until rhubarb is tender. Cool and pour over crust.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream until thickened.  Add confectioners' sugar and beat until soft peaks form.  Fold in marshmallows and spread over rhubarb layer.

In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes.  Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Spread over cream layer; sprinkle with coconut.  Cover and refrigerate for 4-5 hours.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before cutting.  Yield:  16 ample servings.