Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cooking Class: Hard Cider

I had the recent pleasure of attending a class at Urban Farm & Feed / Wasatch Front Farmers Market on how to make hard cider at home.  The basics are a fermenting kit, a juicer, and a bunch of apples.  It's pretty darn neat!  Keep an eye on their Facebook page for more upcoming classes.  The fermenting kit can be used for all sorts of other things too, like beer and fruit wine.  This makes me look longingly at the still-dormant tiny grape vines and fruit trees and dream of summer.
Finding local cooking classes can be super fun - it's a good way to try something new, meet interesting people, and ask questions you've always wondered about (such as exactly how to get bottle caps on bottles).  Think about what kind of class you like and learn best at and start looking for them.  There are hands-on classes, like this one, or classes where the students watch the chef and take notes.  Some are for specific recipes, some are for techniques.  Many offer samples of the recipes that were cooked or even include a take-home of the product being made.  The lucky students here went home with a bucket of future hard cider to enjoy and the equipment to make plenty more. 

Here are some shots of the cider making!


First, the stars of our show, apples. 
















To ferment things, you need a fermenting kit.  Sterilize everything! 












Then, slice a bunch of apples.  Maybe some extra for eating.  They are pretty tasty. 













Run them through a juicer.  I might be the only person in the country who's never used one (at least as far as I can tell from Pinterest) and they totally fascinate me.  They separate the juice from the pulp and seeds.  Apparently chickens love pulp and seeds.   










Then it's off to the fermentation bucket with special yeast monsters and a thingamawhatsit to allow gas to escape.  When the monsters are done, the right yeast is added.

This bottle held cider for the next photo, and can now be washed, sterilized, and re-used for more cider!







Results! Okay it wasn't *quite* that fast, as the cider does need many weeks to ferment.  Our awesome teacher Paige had made some beforehand that was ready to pop open for the class.  Thanks Paige, see you for the next class! 





Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fresh Pesto

Another island of happy summer freshness in the cold of winter, fresh pesto is full of basil and garlic and if you close your eyes you can pretend it isn't twenty degrees outside.  I have plans to grow tons of basil and eat pesto all summer long, then freeze it for next winter.

Fresh Basil Pesto with Tomatoes
This recipe has moved to my new blog home at http://www.someplacethatsgreen.com/2014/03/25/fresh-basil-pesto/
Please come and visit me!

Local ingredient highlights:
Garlic from Urban Farm & Feed
Beautiful dish made by Ben Looney Pottery

Olive oil from Millcreek Olive Oil

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

The dreary days of winter make me crave comfort food.  To me, that means pasta.  I happily realized that one of my cookbooks is the perfect solution: 365 Ways To Cook Pasta (that's an Amazon link, although this version appears to be out of print).  Well, let's start with recipe number one, shall we?

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
Spaghetti a la Puttanesca is tonight's Italian specialty.  The name has something to do with Italian whores and there are a lot of urban legends about how this name came about.  My favorite is that it's such a quick and easy dish to make that women in this profession could enjoy a meal between clients.  This goes right along with my New Year's resolution to drink more wine.  Pinot Grigio is a perfect accompaniment.  My other resolutions are to listen to more music, burn more candles, and do more crossword puzzles.  So far, success!

I have to break recipe tradition right off the bat because I don't eat anchovies or capers.  This is my version of the recipe, but if you enjoy those things then by all means add some.  The black olives tripped me up a little - the regular grocery store didn't have what's in the recipe so I used pitted Kalamata olives and chopped them.  Delicious! 

Local highlights: Just the garlic today, from the Urban Farm and Feed store.  Not many fresh ingredients in this one, but that makes it easy to put together any time of the year. 

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
3 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 can (1 lb 12 oz) Italian-style peeled tomatoes (do not drain) or 3 diced whole tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped, pitted, salt-cured black olives
1 tsp crushed dried red pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
2 Tbsp chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
Salt to taste
1 lb spaghetti

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oil in large skillet, stove on Medium-ish.  Add garlic and cook for about a minute (don't let it brown).
2. Stir in can of tomatoes, olives, red pepper, oregano, and black pepper.  Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. While sauce is simmering, boil water and cook spaghetti noodles until al dente.
4. Stir parsley into sauce and simmer for 2 minutes.  Add salt to taste.
5. Toss pasta with sauce and serve with crusty bread and white wine.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Holiday Porter Cake, Hobbit-Style

Holiday Porter Cake
A recent watching of The Hobbit reminded me how much I love the Lord of the Rings movies.  A couple of Christmases ago I decided to watch all of the extended versions in a row... and not just the movies, but also a Hobbit-style feast to go along with them.  Hobbit culture is all about food - growing it, preparing it, preserving it, and especially eating it.  Heck yes!

Tolkien wrote a passage describing the delicacies that abound in Bilbo's many pantries, and it was from this that I pulled inspiration.  I made scones and jam, an apple tart, drank herbal tea and dark beer (um, not at the same time), and generally reveled in spending the entire day watching movies from the kitchen.  My favorite discovery was this Victorian-Style recipe for Porter Cake, originally from a website called Historical Foods that has since been taken down - I am happy to discover that the full collection is once again available at Recipe Wise: Food In The Hobbit.  Victorian Era recipes are not the easiest sets of instructions to cook from, so I updated it to US measurements and swapped out some ingredients to be more Utah-local.  Did you know that golden currants are a native Utah plant?  You can pick them up fresh at the farmers markets in the summer.  Or plant some!

Winter is the perfect time to use dried and preserved fruits, to make up for the lack of fresh ones available.  Technically, this is a fruit cake.  Before you run screaming, this dark and hearty cake bears zero resemblance to the travesties that are filled with candied neon things. Once you try this, you will never refer to those things as fruitcakes again. 

If, while you are baking one of many Porter Cakes, the last of the baking powder goes into waffle batter, do not go ahead and make the cake without it.  Baking powder is very important.  But eat the delicious waffles first. 

Local highlights:
King's Peak Porter - Uinta Brewery - Did you know that this brewery is solar- and wind- powered?
Black Cherry Mediterranean Market - Where I found the wonderful golden raisins, currants, and dates.  This is a lovely local market full of international specialty goods. Check them out!

Brown Sugar Topping on Porter Cake
Holiday Porter Cake (Hobbit Fruitcake)
Makes 1 cake

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup dried currants
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup applesauce (or zest and juice of one medium orange)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups Porter beer (a bottle minus a couple of sips)

3 eggs, beaten
2 2/3 cup white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground mace

Topping (both optional)
About 1/8 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds


DIRECTIONS
1.  Preheat oven to 320 degrees F.
2.  Prepare a cake pan (a 9" round spring-form pan or a 9" square baking dish works well, whatever you cook brownies in is probably good) - line with parchment paper, including the sides.  This helps the cake retain moisture.  Note: parchment paper is *not* the same as wax paper. 
3.  Put the butter, dried fruit, zest, apricot juice, sugar and porter in a large saucepan. Bring it slowly to a boil, stirring until the butter has dissolved, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.  (It's okay to put the mixture in the fridge overnight at this point if needed)

4. Stir the beaten eggs into the hot fruit mixture.
5. Add in the flour, baking powder, and spices, and mix well. 
6. Pour the thick batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top to distribute evenly.  Sprinkle brown sugar and/or almonds over the top and press the almonds slightly into the batter.
7.  Bake at 320 for 75 to 90 minutes.  Use the toothpick test to determine done-ness (toothpick will come out clean when it's done).  If the top browns too fast, cover it with foil for the rest of the baking time.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Orange Cranberry Bread

What a wonderful time of year to bake for friends, family, coworkers, everybody!  This festive bread makes use of the cranberries and oranges that are abundant during winter, and no yeast which means no rising time.  Just mix and bake!  
Holiday Orange Cranberry Bread

I'll keep it short and sweet today; so many holiday things to get done!  The original recipe came from a Christmas card from a friend in junior high who must have known that I'd learn how to cook someday.  If any of you have kids in your lives I encourage you to include them in your kitchen, share recipes with them, and have them practice counting and measuring and mixing.

I made an extra loaf using applesauce from my canning spree this past fall, so I can enjoy both the cranberry goodness and my local ingredients.  

Local ingredient highlights this time are the basics:
Eggs - Clifford Farm
Flour - Lehi Roller Mills
Applesauce, homemade and canned this fall!


Holiday Orange Cranberry Bread

INGREDIENTS
Makes 1 loaf

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
10 Tbsp orange juice (juice of 2-3 oranges) OR 10 Tbsp applesauce
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup cranberries (thawed)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350.
Prepare a loaf pan (parchment paper or grease the bottom only).
Slice all cranberries in half.
In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.
Add all wet ingredients except cranberries and mix until everything is moistened.
Gently fold in cranberries.
Pour dough into prepared loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes; use the toothpick test.
Let cool for at least 5 minutes in the pan, then finish cooling on a rack or plate.  This bread does not slice well while hot so let it cool completely before slicing.

Toothpick test: Stick a toothpick into the center and pull it out.  If it comes out with any dough on it, bake the bread for another 5-10 minutes.  If it comes out completely clean, the bread is done.  If it comes out with cranberry on it, get a new toothpick and poke it into a different place. 

Slices of fresh orange cranberry bread, ready for breakfast!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Honey Gingersnap Cookies

This year I joined the Third Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!  I'd never done something like this before and loved it!  What is a cookie swap?  Well, a bunch of people bake cookies, send them to other people, and everybody donates money to Cookies For Kids Cancer.  It's a win/win/win ending in cookies!  How could I not be a part of that?  Over $14,000 was raised this year and I already look forward to next year.  Here's what I made!

Honey Gingersnap Cookies
Before I get to the recipe, thanks to my fellow bloggers who sent me cookies!  These were delicious and I definitely recommend checking out their blogs and recipes.

Alma Cucina - Apricot Almond Birds Nest Cookies
Cupcakes and Kale Chips - Oatmeal Cashew White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
Kitchenette Blog - Salted Toffee Crunch Cookies


Honey Gingersnaps on the cooling rack
My cookie choice had to be something new to me, and you all know how much I love new recipes.  I wanted something to represent Utah, which is the Beehive State, so honey cookies were the obvious choice.  I hunted for the perfect recipe that would be crunchy outside, soft inside but not cake-like, and come out beautiful.  What I really wanted was gingersnaps but with honey... then it dawned on me that I ought to make gingersnaps, with honey.  Sometimes answers are so simple if we be quiet and listen to the universe. 

One of my favorite recipe books is a short collection of cookie recipes by Better Homes & Gardens that I've had for longer than I can remember.  I love opening it up and staring at the photos.  One of those photos was the inspiration for this recipe - the photo turned out to be a completely unrelated recipe, but it guided me to what I wanted!

These cookies are soft inside, crispy outside, and absolute perfection with a glass of cold milk or hot coffee.   Rolling them in sugar is what gives them the pretty texture  This is a basic gingersnap recipe with honey in place of the molasses.  They disappear quickly so you might want to double the batch. This is a great last-minute recipe if you want to make cookies but don't have time to let butter soften - no butter! 

Honey Gingersnap cookies
Local ingredients:
Neighborhood Beekeeping for the honey
Lehi Roller Mills for the flour
Real Salt for the salt

Also thanks to OXO, a sponsor of the cookie swap, who sent me bright colorful silicone spatulas that have been a great addition to my kitchen.







Utah Honey Gingersnaps
Makes about 3 dozen


INGREDIENTS
2 cups white flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
~
3/4 cup olive oil or other light tasting oil
1 cup brown sugar1/4 cup honey
1 egg, lightly beaten
Extra sugar for rolling cookies in

DIRECTIONS
1. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and spices)
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the brown sugar, oil, honey, and egg.
3. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
4. Preheat oven to 375 and prepare cookie sheet (cover in aluminum foil or parchment paper to prevent sticking).
5. Using a Tablespoon as a scoop and leveling off each one, make a pile of little ball-ish shapes.
6. Roll each of the little shapes into a ball.  Roll in granulated sugar, place on a cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.  Give each cookie a bit of space, they spread out some.  A dozen at a time in the oven works well.
7.  Bake for 11 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes then move to baking rack to finish cooling. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Apple Custard Pie with Walnut Crust

Sometimes unexpected things happen in the kitchen.  Plans go awry.  I don't always double check my ingredients or recipe timing, and this can lead to happy things like making this pie.  My original plan was to make a cinnamon apple cheesecake for a pie contest.  Partway through this I noticed the instruction line about chilling overnight... oops.  Well, I signed up for making a pie, and a pie I shall make. Apples are the fruit of the season, and I like to shake things up a bit from the traditional apple pie.  

Apple Custard Pie with Walnut Crust and Cinnamon Glaze

Of course things can get a little too crazy in the kitchen for me when I try to bake two things at once, especially when the recipes are similar... my husband came to the rescue to help me out and so far so good with the two pies.  Might as well finish the second one too, right?  (Now we have cheesecake for breakfast mmmmm)  The original recipe didn't make enough glaze to cover the apples so I bumped up the ingredients there to make what I put on this pie.  People seemed disappointed that it isn't caramel, but the cinnamon-cider glaze is so good and I think caramel would overwhelm the delicate custard.  The glaze cooks up very quickly so do not take your eyes off of it while the heat is on.  Okay I did mine on medium not low... what can I say, it was one of those days. 

Local ingredients of the day:
Cameo apples from the Urban Farm & Feed store
Apple cider from Farnsworth Family Farms
Eggs from Clifford Family Farm

Also thanks to the Wasatch Cooperative Market and Salt Lake Culinary Center for hosting the pie contest for inspiration!

No, I didn't win, but I had a lot of fun and was very pleased with how this came out.  I've always wanted to be good enough at baking to be able to enter a contest and feel good about it! 


Apple Custard Pie with Walnut Crust
Pie adapted from Eagle Brand (Sweetened Condensed Milk).

CRUST
1 1/2 cups ground walnuts
3 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons white sugar

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Press the nut mixture firmly into bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate. 

Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for about 10 minutes, or until the edge is golden brown. Cool.

PIE INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups sour cream 
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk 
1/4 cup apple cider
1 large egg 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
3-4 medium apples, cored, pared and thinly sliced 
2 tablespoons butter

Apple Cinnamon Glaze:  
1/2 cup apple cider
4 teaspoons cornstarch 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS
1.  In small bowl, beat sour cream, sweetened condensed milk, apple juice, egg, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth. Pour into prepared pie crust. Bake 30 minutes or until set. Cool.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook apples in butter until tender yet crisp. Arrange the prettiest slices on top of pie.  Eat the other slices. 

3.  Combine apple juice, cornstarch and cinnamon in small saucepan. Over low heat, cook and stir until boiling. Boil for 1 minute. Keep a very close eye on this, it can burn easily. 

4.  Drizzle over cooked apples. Serve warm or chilled.