Thursday, October 29, 2015

Breakfast Baking with King Arthur Flour: Cranberry Sticky Buns

By the time you read this I'll be on my way to a much needed vacation.

I'm going to wine country! I'll be knee deep in luscious grapes and loving every minute of it.

Before I leave I had to bring you the last installment of my Sur La Table cooking class.

Sur La Table has partnered with King Arthur Flour to present a fun, hands-on class featuring Breakfast Baking.

King Arthur Flour is America’s oldest flour company, founded in Boston in 1790 bringing top-quality flours to bakers in the United States. Today they reside in Vermont and produce some of the best flours I've ever used. I use them for all my flour needs. Make sure to try them. The flour is so tender and produces some of the best products you will ever make.

Today I'm bringing you the last item that we made, Cranberry Sticky Buns. These are a mix of all purpose and whole wheat flour so they have a more nutty flavor which is perfect for fall. With the cranberries and the nuts you can't beat the flavor. They are delicious and I hope you enjoy them.

Note: Don't be put off by the long directions. They mostly explain the dough process, which is really quite easy. Try them you'll love them!

My previous item from this Breakfast Baking with King Arthur Flour is here. (Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake) and here. (Sausage, Apple, and Cheddar Pocket Pies)

Cranberry Sticky Buns

The Dough
2 eggs
warm water (to make 2 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon or packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons butter, softened, or vegetable oil
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
2 cups King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
1 tablespoon salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Cranberry Filling
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 to 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar (depending on how tart or sweet you like your cranberries)
3 cups fresh cranberries or 1 cup dried cranberries (or more or less)
1/2 to 1 cup chopped or ground nuts (optional; leave out, or add even more)
Making the Dough: Break the eggs into a two-cup liquid measure and fill the balance with warm water. Pour this into a mixing bowl and beat until thoroughly blended.

Add and dissolve the sugar and yeast. Let this mixture work until it's bubbly and expanded, 5 to 10 minutes. Then beat in the butter or oil and the dry milk.

When all of this is thoroughly blended, add the whole wheat flour and salt. Stir in 3 cups of unbleached flour until the mixture holds together and pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Kneading & Rising: Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board. This dough will be sticky, so keep your hands well floured. Knead for 3 to 4 minutes, adding only enough flour to keep it from sticking to the board or you. Use a dough scraper to help if you need to.

Give the dough a rest while you clean and grease your bowl. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky. (This will happen, even with a soft dough such as this.) Place it in the greased bowl, cover, put it somewhere cozy, and let it rise until you can poke your finger in it without it springing back, between 1 1/2 and 2 hours. 
Preparing the Filling: While the dough is rising, gather the ingredients for the filling.

If you're using fresh cranberries, cut them in half and simmer them in a saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of water and the greater amount of sugar for 8 to 10 minutes. Keep the heat low and give the mixture an occasional stir.

If you're using dried cranberries, put aside one quarter of the filling ingredients for later.

Shaping & Rising: Half of this dough will fill a 9-inch cake pan. The whole recipe needs a medium-sized roasting pan. If you brush your pans with a thin film of shortening (even before buttering them), it will help prevent sticking.

Punch the dough down and roll it into a large rectangle, about 12 x 24 inches (or, if you haven't the room, two smaller ones, 9 x 16 inches). The dough should be somewhere between 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick.

Spread the softened butter on the rectangle(s), leaving a half an inch around the outside edge unbuttered.

If you're using the fresh cranberries mixture, spread all of it on the surface of the dough leaving, again, a half an inch clear. Starting with the long edge, roll the dough up like a jelly roll. Pinch the outside edge tightly to the main body of the dough. Don't worry about how it looks.

Since this mixture is quite gloppy, lift the roll gently (or cut it in half if you're using two pans) and place it in the pan(s) you intend to bake them in. Cut the roll into 3/4- to 1-inch slices. Arrange them so they have room to expand. Some of the filling will ooze out but don't worry. This becomes the glaze on top after you turn them out of the pan. Cover the buns and let them rise for 45 minutes to an hour.

If you're using dried cranberries, sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter, then the cranberries, and finally the nuts (if you're so moved).

Butter and sugar your pan with the ingredients you had set aside. (You can even throw some cranberries and nuts in as well.)

Starting with the long edge, roll the dough up like a jelly roll. Pinch the outside edge to the main body of the dough. Cut the roll into 3/4- to 1-inch slices. Place the slices in the prepared pans with a bit of space between them so they have room to expand. Cover the buns and let them rise for 45 minutes to an hour.

Baking: Place the pan in a cold oven and set the temperature to 400°F for 15 minutes. During this 15 minutes, the buns will finish rising and assume their final, wonderful, expanded shape.

After this 15-minute period, turn the temperature down to 350°F for a further 20 to 30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes. If there's the slightest aroma of browning sugar, turn the temperature down to 325°F for the final 10 minutes.

Turning Out: While these buns are still hot, loosen the sides a bit with a knife. Then find a plate or platter that will accommodate them.

Invert the platter over the baking pan, flip them both over and allow the baking pan to stay in place for a few minutes to allow everything to come out. (Anything left in the bottom of the pan is fair game for the cook and the helpers.) 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Strawberry Agua Fresca

You know what goes well with chicken verde tacos on a warm and sunny afternoon? Agua fresca!

On Sundays, we hit the gym. We've recently gotten into spinning in our gym. Riding out on the streets around Los Angeles is a peril I'd rather not experience. With crazy drivers everywhere bicycling can be harmful to your health! Instead we spin (high-intensity, indoor cycling on stationary bikes) and we love it! It's really hard though, and after a good workout and all that sweating (or glistening for Southern girls!) all I want is an ice cold agua fresca to hydrate myself.

If you know me I frequent the farmer's markets a lot. We have a fantasic one down the street that takes place on Sundays.  So usually before our workout I hit the market and by some fresh seasonal fruit for the week, and our agua fresca! This week I found some late season strawberries....oh were they sweet! .

Essentially, agua frescas are made with pureed fruit, water, a little sugar and splash of lime juice. It can be made using a variety of fruits. I love melons and berries in mine. I've seen agua fresca all of the internet in two ways, strained and unstrained. I prefer a clean water texture with the hint of fruit so I strain mine. You can do this either way. If you like it pulpy, go for unstrained.

So make yourself a wonderful lunch, such as my chicken verde tacos , and a refreshing drink to go along with it, sit back, relax, and enjoy the day!

Strawberry Agua Fresca

yield: 4 cups

3 cups strawberries, washed and hulled
2 cups water
juice of 1 lime 
3 Tbsp sugar, more or less according to taste

In a blender add the strawberries, water, lime juice, and sugar.  Blend until liquified and sugar is well blended.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer (optional) into a pitcher.  Serve over ice.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Breakfast Baking with King Arthur Flour: Sausage, Apple, and Cheddar Pocket Pies

The other day I told you that I recently took a class at our new Sur La Table.  They partnered with King Arthur Flour to present a fun, hands-on class featuring Breakfast Baking.

King Arthur Flour is America’s oldest flour company, founded in Boston in 1790 bringing top-quality flours to bakers in the United States. Today they reside in Vermont and produce some of the best flours I've ever used.

I was so excited to have the chance to attend a backing class in conjunction with King Arthur Flour.  It was fabulous.  We made 3 different baked items in about 2 1/2 hours. Today I'm bringing you the second item we made, Sausage, apple, and Cheddar Pocket Pies.  

When I saw this on the menu I was thinking "Seriously? what a strange combination of items.  Apples and Sausage?  I don't think I'm going to like this....."  But we made them and I was the first to try them.  I think others in the class were thinking the same thing a me as they all watched me take a bite.  O M would not believe the flavor profile.  Totally savory, with a smoky, onion flavor.  Subtle cheese for some gooey texture and then barely a hint of sweetness from the apple.  Excellent!

These are perfect for lunch, snacks on the go, or even a light dinner with a salad. You can make them as suggested in a 6" circle, or make them with a 3" circle for appetizers or snacks.  Whatever you like, it's very versatile, but make them you must!


My previous item from this Breakfast Baking with King Arthur Flour is here. (Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake)

Sausage, Apple, and Cheddar Pocket Pies

source: adapted from King Arthur Flour

PREP     30 mins. to 40 mins.

BAKE     30 mins. to 35 mins.
TOTAL   1 hrs 30 mins. to 1 hrs 45 mins.
YIELD    8 pocket pies

2 1/2 cups King Arthur Perfect Pastry Blend
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

10 ounces sausage meat, uncooked
1 cup peeled and diced Granny Smith apple
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1) To make the pastry: Combine the flour, cheese powder, and salt.

2) Work in the butter until larger, pea-sized clumps form.

3) Drizzle in the ice water and toss, adding more water if necessary to make the dough cohesive.

4) Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

5) To make the filling: Stir together all the ingredients.

6) Preheat the oven to 400°F.

7) Roll out each disk on a floured surface. Using a mini pie mold, 6" cutter, or circle template, cut out 16 circles, re-rolling the dough as necessary.

8) Place a heaping 1/4 cup filling in the center of eight pastry circles.

9) Dampen the dough around the filling with water, and top with an unfilled circle.

10) Seal with the help of a pie mold, or by pinching the edges with your fingers or a fork.

11) Place the pocket pies on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

12) Remove the pies from the oven, and serve warm. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cheeseburger Soup

I love lazy Sundays don't you?

Two Sundays ago it was cloudy and sort of rainy.  We got up and took advantage of a dry spell in between showers and went to Coffee and Cars (a local car gathering) and then on to a quick turn in the new Farmer's Market at The Village (a great market!) to grab some items for dinner.  When we got home it was still that!  The rest of the day was ours to do whatever.  Or nothing.

Since the weather finally decided (for 1 day) to turn rainy I had my appetite set on soup that night.  So while I was lazing around doing laundry and watching the Smithsonian channel I started digging through my mom's old recipes and came across this soup.  She called it Cheeseburger Soup and I instantly remembered her making this from time to time growing up.  

It's more of a potato soup with some beef, veggies, and cheese added and boy it is comforting.  We both loved the creamy flavor and would certainly call this comfort food.  This can be made in about 45 minutes so it's a fairly quick soup.  

Since this recipe if probably from the 60's it does have processed cheese as an ingredient.  If you want to substitute that, please do.  I'm sure you will gain great results with shredded cheddar but may need to cook a little longer in order for it to melt well.

All in all this is just what the doctor ordered for a lazy, rainy Sunday!


Cheeseburger Soup
serves 6 - 8

1/2 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 c shredded carrots
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
4 T butter, divided
3 1/2 c low sodium chicken broth
4 c diced peeled potatoes (about 3 medium)
1/4 c flour
8 oz, Velveeta, cubed
1 1/2 c milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 c sour cream

In a medium saucepan brown the ground beef.  Drain and set aside. In the same saucepan, add 1 T butter.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley and saute until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the broth, potatoes and beef.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 12 minutes until potatoes are tender.  

In a small pan over medium heat add remaining 3 T butter and allow to melt.  Add flour and stir for about 3 minutes or until cooked through.  Add the roux to the soup. Bring soup to a boil and stir for 2 minutes to thicken.  Reduce heat to low. Add the cheese, milk, salt and pepper.  Continue to cook until melted.  Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Serve.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Southwestern Avocado Salad

The other day MGG and I went up to Pt. Mugu in Camarillo to watch my very first air show.  

WOW!  What an amazing thing to experience.

The RUSH you get from seeing these planes speed across the sky.  We were lucky that this show had many different airplanes but the main attraction was the BLUE ANGELS.  I can't even describe what you feel when you see them fly in formation about 10 feet from each other....or coming at each other head on, or speed over your head unexpectedly.  They almost knocked me off my feet (literally)!! Needless to say I was blown away by the air show and can't wait to go again!  

After a long day I begged MGG to go to one of the local farmer's markets in Oxnard to pick up some fresh veggies for our late lunch/early dinner.  He didn't resist too much as he knew he was in for a great treat later on.  So off we went, "Mach 1" to the farmer's market.  Oxnard is one of the major hubs for farms in CA so it is filled with farm fresh foods. Today was all about Avocados, lettuce, corn, and carrots. We loaded up and headed home in anticipation of a great salad.

Loving the flavor of the southwest I decided to throw together this quick, yet delicious salad.  It's filling, but if you would like to add meat for additional protein I highly recommend some grilled chicken.  Yum! 

Try it.
You'll LOVE it!

The flavors are perfect together and the buttery fresh avocado just adds that extra special something. I've added two different dressings for you to choose from. They are both great with this salad.  


Southwestern Avocado Salad

serves 4

1 head Red leaf lettuce, chopped
1 14 oz lower sodium can black beans, rinsed
1 large tomato, diced
1 cup of shredded carrots
2 ears of corn (1 1/2 cups fresh/frozen corn)
2 avocados, cubed
Lemon juice
Queso Fresco, crumbled
Ranch Salsa dressing (optional) (see below)
Southwest Vinaigrette (optional) (see below)

In a large bowl, add your lettuce, beans, tomato, and carrots. Wrap the 2 corn on the cobs in plastic wrap and microwave on high for 3 1/2 minutes.  Allow to cool before handling. Slice corn kernels off the cob.  Add corn to bowl.  Sprinkle avocado cubes with lemon juice to keep from browning. Add to the bowl.  Mix salad and transfer to a platter.  top with crumbled cheese and serve with your choice of salad dressing.

Ranch Salsa Dressing:  Mix 1/2 cup of bottled or homemade ranch dressing with 1/4 cup of zesty salsa.

Southwest Vinaigrette:  Mix 1/4 cup olive oil with 2 Tbls. lime juice, dash of hot sauce, and 2 Tbls of chopped cilantro.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Breakfast Baking with King Arthur Flour: Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

We have something new in our neighborhood call "The Village".  It's a outdoor street-like restaurant and shopping area filled with new things...and Sur La Table!

I was so happy to get a Sur La Table in our area.  A foodie's candy store is always a kitchen store.  Plus, with the benefit of an onsite cooking classroom in the back I was in heaven! Browsing through the classes offered I spotted one where they partnered with King Arthur Flour to present a fun, hands-on class featuring Breakfast Baking.

If you don't know about King Arthur Flour, you are missing out! King Arthur Flour is America’s oldest flour company, founded in Boston in 1790 bringing top-quality flours to bakers in the United States. Today they reside in Vermont and produce some of the best flours I've ever used.

When I discovered King Arthur's All Purpose Flour I was making a family favorite of homemade egg noodles for a large group of people. The result from this flour was the most tender, soft noodles I've ever made. I've been using King Arthur's flours ever since. 

So I jumped at the chance to attend a backing class in conjunction with King Arthur Flour.  It was fabulous.  We made 3 different baked items in about 2 1/2 hours. Today I'm bringing you an autumn twist on a coffeecake, Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake.  

This is the perfect breakfast or dessert dish.  It has a wonderful Streusel topping with a cinnamon sugar swirl in the middle of the cake.  I love the pumpkin flavoring and the cake turned out moist and tender.  Just perfect.  Another plus it that it doesn't make a ton of cake so I'm not tempted to keep eating it day and night!  It takes a 9" round cake pan or you can use a loaf pan if you prefer.  Just the right size in my book.

Try this wonderful cake and let me know what you think. Remember to try King Arthur Flour as well.  You will definitely enjoy the product it produces.


Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

PREP:   20 mins. to 30 mins.
BAKE:   40 mins. to 45 mins.
TOTAL: 60 mins. to 1 hrs 15 mins.
YIELD:  about 12 servings

2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional
4 tablespoons melted butter

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, optional

1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pumpkin purée (canned pumpkin)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8" square pan or 9" round pan.

2) To make the topping: Whisk together the sugar, salt, flour, spice, and nuts. Add the melted butter, stirring just until well combined. Set the topping aside.

3) To make the filling: Mix together the brown sugar, spice, and cocoa powder. Note that the cocoa powder is used strictly for color, not flavor; leave it out if you like. Set it aside.

4) To make the cake: Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt, and baking powder until smooth.

5) Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.

6) Pour/spread half the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it all the way to the edges. If you have a scale, half the batter is about 13 1/2 ounces.

7) Sprinkle the filling evenly atop the batter.

8) Spread the remaining batter atop the filling. Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter, as though you were making a marble cake. Don't combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter.

9) Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.

10) Bake the cake until it's light brown on top, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.

11) Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve the cake right from the pan.

Yield: 1 cake, about 12 servings.
Source:   Published: 11/02/2013

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Grilled Chicken with Spaghetti Pasta and Arugula

Need a quick 20 minute late summer meal?

Sometimes I just want to minimize my dinner preparations and cook an easy pasta dish.  We went to the farmer's market today and picked up a couple of fresh ingredients such as fresh tomatoes, arugula, and some lemons in anticipation of this meal.

Quick and simple.  That's the plan today.

The bright flavors of these ingredients make this pasta a light late summer meal.  Now you may be saying that it's already fall...well that may be all around the country except is sooo not true for Southern California.  Still singing the hot summer nights here. So this meal is just perfect.

The chicken in this dish is grilled, which you can grill indoor or out.  It provides great flavor to the dish and cooks up quickly when using thin breasts or chicken tenders.

If you want to get a great dinner on the table in 20 minutes this is you dish!  I promise you will love it and so will the family.


Grilled Chicken with Spaghetti Pasta and Arugula

Serves 4

12 oz spaghetti
6 oz arugula
1 lb chicken breasts, thin sliced, cut into strips
3 T olive oil
3 T unsalted butter
1 T garlic, minced
1 c fresh tomatoes, diced
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c Parmesan, grated

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  Brush grate with oil.  Salt and pepper chicken to taste.  Grill chicken covered 4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.  

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions (about 8-9 minutes). Place arugula in the bottom of a colander, and drain pasta over the arugula. Transfer to a large bowl.

Heat oil and butter in a saucepan over low heat until butter melts.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, zest and lemon juice.  Pour over the pasta and toss to coat.  Stir in cheese.  Plate and top each serving with grilled chicken.  

adapted from Cuisine Tonight Fresh & Fabulous Spring 2014 Magazine


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