Saturday, March 26, 2016

Avocado and Citrus Salad

Late winter is a great time for citrus fruits.  Though California avocados aren't in season, because of the Mexican avocado crops, it's usually pretty easy to find good avocados.  The orange and red grapefruit in this salad provide just enough acidity to keep the avocado from turning brown too quickly, but this is still a salad that you want to eat as soon as you make it.  It's be great on its own, but was nice on a bed of baby spinach.  This made enough for two generous dinner servings.  If this is part of a larger meal, it would serve four and is easily doubled.  It'd make a refreshing salad for Easter!

Avocado and Citrus Salad
1 navel orange "supremed" (see directions below)
1 red grapefruit, also supremed
juice from supreming the fruit
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 thin slice of red onion, chopped
1 avocado
2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried

Supreming citrus fruit:  Slice the ends off of the fruit and stand it on one cut end.  Slice the skin off the fruit, taking care to cut all of the bitter pith off but leave as much of the fruit as you can.  Hold the peeled fruit in one hand and, over a small bowl or measuring to catch the juices, slice on either side of each segment to free the fruit.  Place the segments on a cutting board.  When all of the segments have been removed, squeeze the remaining membranes over the small bowl to extract as much juice as you can for the dressing.  Cut the segments into about 1-inch pieces and place in a salad bowl.   Stir the honey into the juice, blending well.  With a whisk, slowly add the olive oil to emulsify. Whisk in a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.  Cut the avocado in half length-wise and open. Remove the pitt and peel each side.  Cut into about 1-inch chunks. Add the avocado and diced onion to the citrus fruit and toss. Pour the dressing on top and toss again.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed and/or some more olive oil.  Place one cup of spinach on a salad plate or bowl and top with half of the fruit/avocado.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Mom's Peanut Butter Honey Oat Treats

I've been bugging my mom to come up with recipes for this blog and these delightful treats are her latest invention.  We had them for "bezzert" at our regular Monday dinner get together.  "Bezzert" is the linguistic invention of my great nephew Sam--an ardent dessert aficionado--who began inquiring about the after dinner sweet options when he was but a wee lad. He's big enough now to pronounce "dessert," but "bezzert" remains the preferred word in our family.  It makes us smile every time we say it. Mom's Peanut Butter Honey Oat Treats are both chewy and crunchy--and couldn't be simpler!  They're a regular feature of Wood Family bezzerts! Thanks, Momma!

Mom's Peanut Butter Honey Oat Treats
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
3 cups oat cereal (e.g. Cheerios)

Line an 8x8 pan with wax or parchment paper. Place peanut butter and honey in a large mixing bowl and melt in the microwave--about 30 seconds  Stir in the oat cereal, completely coating the cereal with the peanut butter/honey mixture.  Press into the pan and place in refrigerator until hardened.  Cut into squares.  An easy and good-for-you snack (or bezzert!). Makes about 16.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Chewy Honey Oatmeal Cookies

I made this for a little party in one of my classes.  The students have been working hard on a service-learning project and we celebrated completing part of it with a pizza party--and some cookies!  These made quite a few (about 50) because they're small.  Another interesting element of the recipe is that the dough sits for awhile so that the oats can soften. If you try to make them right after you mix them, they'll be a bit soupy and hard to form.  I found the recipe on the Food52 website--a cooking website I should check out more often than I do!

Chewy Honey Oatmeal Cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (the original recipe calls for quick-cooking; I used old fashioned)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup demerara sugar (could use turbinado or brown sugar)
1/3 cup honey
12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (a lovely addition!)

Whisk the flour, oatmeal, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the sugar, honey, butter, egg, egg yolk and extracts until smooth.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. (I let them sit for an hour because I used old fashioned oats.)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Using a teaspoon, scoop and roll the dough into cookies about the size of a walnut.  Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until nicely browned at the edges.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Montreal Bagels

This is another recipe from the Cooking at New York Times website, though you might also want to check out other recipes, like this one from The Splendid Table.  It's a great recipe for beekeepers who have lots of extra honey on hand.  It uses 1/2 cup of honey in the dough and then another 1/3 cup of honey in the water bath the bagels are poached in before baked.  Unlike New York bagels, Montreal bagels are supposed to be smaller, sweeter and have a larger center hole.  You can see from my photos that I didn't quite achieve that effect.  These are delicious, though--and because of the honey in the dough, they toast very nicely!  If you get an early start, they can even be ready for a late Sunday brunch.

Montreal Bagels
1 1/2 cups water, room temperature
2 packages quick-rising yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
5 cups bread flour (may need a bit more)
3 quarts water for boiling
1/3 cup honey
sesame or poppy seeds for sprinkling on top 

You can mix this dough by hand, but a stand mixer with a dough hook makes go a lot faster!  In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast, sugar and salt. Stir in the egg, egg yolk, oil and honey and mix until well combined. Add the 5 cups of flour and mix until too stiff to mix by hand. Turn onto a floured board and knead until the dough is soft and supple. (If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook for this.) Add as little extra flour as you can while kneading, just to keep the dough from sticking. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. (At this point, you can refrigerate the dough if you'd like and make the bagels the next day.  If you do, bring the dough to room temperature before proceeding.) 

If proceeding with the recipe, then let the dough rest for 20 minutes.  Gently punch the dough down and divide into 18 even pieces.  Place the three quarts of water and 1/3 cup of honey into a large pot and bring to a boil.  Turn down to simmer while you get the bagels ready.

Take one dough piece, roll into a long rope (about 8-10 inches long).  Join the ends, pinching and rolling to firmly adhere them.  If they're not firmly adhered to each other, they can come apart in the water bath.  Place the formed bagels on a towel-lined baking sheet and let rest for 15 minutes.  

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Bring the water bath back to a boil.  Gently lower three bagels at a time into the water bath.  When they rise to the surface, turn them and let them poach for another minute.  Place the boiled bagels on a baking sheet (remove the towel!) and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds. Continue boiling and seeding and placing on the baking sheet. 

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until they are nicely browned.  You can freeze thoroughly cooled bagels, wrapped well, for future use.