a quick bread martha stewart would hate


So here I am humble blogger and home chef experimenting with a quick bread recipe. Face it, quick bread batter is like basic cookie dough and it depends on what you add to it.

I have been playing with a new recipe. And no, Martha Stewart was not harmed in its creation.

Fall sweet bread – a quick bread in progress

Good for breakfast with apple butter or almond butter.

Makes 1 loaf.


1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar – I prefer light brown

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup of milk with 4 tablespoons buttermilk powder

2 cups flour – either half whole wheat and half white flour or all whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

small dash salt

Teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground mace, cardamom for **sugar mixture

2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground mace, cardamom, ginger for batter

**Cinnamon sugar mixture:
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom

Plain oatmeal for final top sprinkling

Pre-heat oven

Grease and flour one 9×5 loaf pan.

Cream together butter, 1 cup sugar, and egg. Add milk, flour, spices , and baking soda.

Mix well.

Put 1/3 of batter in greased loaf pan.

Mix in separate bowl the 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the sugar spice mixture on top of the batter in pan.

Add 1/2 of remaining batter to pan and sprinkle 1/2 the remaining sugar spice mixture. Repeat one last time and give a swirl with a knife. Sprinkle top with a little plain oatmeal.

Bake at 350 degrees in your preheated oven for 45-60 minutes or until toothpick comes clean.

Cool in pan for at least 20 minutes before removing from pan.

The problem I have with this recipe is working out the kinks in baking time. Adding whole wheat flour or baking completely with whole wheat flour changes how it bakes.

The last time I baked this I used ALL whole wheat flour and it took just shy of 60 minutes to bake. And I let it cool in the warm oven with the oven door open for a few minutes. When you use brown sugar and all whole wheat flour this is a pretty heavy and dense, yet moist brown bread.


channel your innner grandmother: pickle something

beet2My kitchen is full of the spicy sweet scent of pickling.

I don’t know why, but I woke up and thought I might try pickling some of those glorious beets I purchased from NorthStar Orchards at East Goshen Farmers’ Market yesterday.

I already have the jars, so I went to the store and bought fresh apple cider vinegar, new pickling spice and a bag of cipollini onions.

Yes I channeled my inner Pennsylvania German heritage and I swear somewhere up there my mumma is smiling.  A pickled beet is a sweet pickle, and that makes me think of her.  My great aunts on my father’s side were Italian and they did the hot pickled peppers and when I was really little I remember them canning tomatoes and peaches.

I did not do the whole hot water canning method.  These are a small batch of simple pickled beets that will keep refrigerated about six months or so. I kick them up a notch by adding dill and hot pepper flakes and garlic. I hadn’t written this down before so I hope my proportions are right….

Here is how you do it:

6 to 8 medium to large fresh beets, scrubbed and top free*

2 cups sugar

2  cups cider vinegar

1 cup water

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Kosher salt

2 cinnamon sticks broken up

6 cloves of garlic not peeled

1 bag of small pearl or cipollini onions not peeled

1 Tablespoon  allspice

4Tablespoons pickling spice

4 Tablespoons dill- freeze-dried or fresh chopped

1 1/2 Tablespoons hot pepper flakes

Makes 3 jars – these jars in my photo are the Weck 744 Tulip and they hold about 2 cups of whatever in them. I think in European measuring they are 1/2 liter. I love these Weck jars. They have wide mouths and can even go in the freezer.

*Option I should mention:
Roast beets in foil instead of boiling. If you roast, roast in a pan in an aluminum foil “bag” at 350 degrees for about an hour.

Put beets in a large saucepan or stockpot and add enough cold water to cover them  a few inches over the top. Bring to  boil, then turn heat down to maintain a slow boil. Cook until beets are tender when pierced, about 40 minutes.

Pour water off and let beets cool. Slip skins off once the beets are cool enough to handle. Slice and set aside.

Boil another pot of water.  When water is roiling and boiling, toss the little onions in skis and all.  When a scant three minutes have passed, lift onions out and allow to cool.  If you take a kitchen scissors and snip the end of the onion bulb you should then be able to easily peel these onions or pop them out of their skins. After they are clean set aside whole.

Place the sugar, cider vinegar, water, salt, and spices in yet another saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Turn off.

Working quickly so pickling liquid doesn’t cool off too much, arrange beets and garlic and onions evenly in your jars.  Ladle in the liquid  so it covers the vegetables(you might have a little left over, just toss it if so).
Cover with  lids, seal,  and cool down.  When jars are room temperature, put them in refrigerator.

Let the beets sit at least ten days before tasting.

Keep in the refrigerator up to 6 months. Maybe 8.

hello my little dumpling!

dumpling2I hear people want me to get back to recipes.  It is not like I haven’t been cooking, just haven’t been sharing….ooops. (Sorry about that!)

So anyway, I am getting into fall food mood.  Been making peach crisps and cobblers and pies, apple next.  Last night I did a roasted chicken that was mostly Julia Child but a little bit me – plain roasted chicken loaded with herbs from the garden.

Also yesterday I started my first soup of the season:  chicken soup.  I had the neck and gizzards from the chicken I roasted plus a bag of necks and gizzards in the freezer, so why not soup?  In total it was like six necks, six sets of gizzards and stuff.

Making soup isn’t rocket science, it is basically a ginormous pot with meat or bones and water and seasoning and vegetables and herbs, and stir and cook away.

dumpling 3I prefer my own stock and when I am making soup it is a two-day process.  Day one is throw it all into the pot and cook for a few  hours on super low temperature after first bringing it to a boil.  When it cools, pick out the (in this case) chicken necks and gizzards and discard.  Then I put the whole thing in the refrigerator in the pot to chill down overnight. That was on the second day they said let their be soup I can take the fat which has risen to the surface and congealed OFF the top of my broth/stock and I am ready to proceed.

So I have done all that and tossed in some more vegetables and chopped up leftover chicken from last night’s roast and what I decided to do was MAKE DUMPLINGS!

Dumplings are EASY. And when added to my soup and accompanied by a nice green salad, voila! An easy mid week dinner that even the teenager appreciates!

Buttermilk-powderI make  herb dumplings.  I learned from my grandmother, mother, and via trial and error. And yes, every culture has a dumpling.  I use buttermilk powder in mine.  Buttermilk powder goes into a lot of my baked goods – even my pie crusts.  Fun little thing to keep in your kitchen but it MUST be refrigerated after you open the package. The photo I am showing you is actually my buttermilk powder. And I get it at the grocery store.


Herb Dumplings:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 to 2  tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 eggs (beaten in a cup first)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk powder
  • as much fresh herbs as you want to mince up – I use tarragon, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, flat leaf parsley – just grab a bunch and chop.
  • a dash of fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese (nothing fancy – Kraft or whatever)

Cut the butter into ALL dry ingredients with pastry cutter or dough blender.  You can also use two forks if you don’t have one of those handy tools.

Mix in the minced fresh herbs

In a measuring cup large enough to hold both, combine milk and eggs.  Start with 3/4 cup of milk, you can always add another 1/4 cup to dough if too dry.

Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients SLOWLY and mix until sticky soft dough comes together.  Do not overwork the dough.

I cover that with a linen towel until I am ready to cook and set aside.

Bring your soup to a boil.  Drop dumpling dough by rounded spoonfuls into soup.  Cover pot, reduce heat to simmer and cook 10 to 15 minutes. They will puff up and bob in the pot. They should be firm and puffy. Warning – be careful not to burn your fingers if you test the consistency of dumplings.

Ladle up and serve.

Could that be any more easy? And it is so old-fashioned and simply delicious.

another recipe for the pasta coma category…

pasta coma just made this up….yesterday.  I am sure many people do something similar, but this is all me:

Ragu of Pork and Veal

In a large Dutch oven, sauté one large sweet onion and one medium-sized regular onion cut into very thin rings.

Sauté in a few healthy tablespoons of olive oil and include four cloves of garlic
minced (I just pour oil in the bottom of the pan until it looks right, but not an elephant’s foot bath.)

Add oregano, and basil. A little marjoram. And kosher salt to taste.

When almost at the point of caramelization, add 1/3 cup good balsamic vinegar.

Allow vinegar to mostly cook off, leaving a darkish sauce in the bottom.

Add to this two grated carrots, two fresh bay leaves, and 6 ounces of chopped baby Bella mushrooms.

Next add one package of ground veal.

Add one package of ground pork.

(Both should be no more than a pound.)

yumAs the meat cooks down and browns slightly (ground veal and pork do not brown like ground beef), add one-third of a cup of 2% milk or half-and-half. large

Allow the milk solids to cook off as if you would with a Bolognese sauce, and when all simmered and brown and delicious, add two 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes. One can should contain purée.  (And buy good tomatoes – it does make a difference.)

pasteAdd one small can of tomato paste. (6 oz)

Cook on medium low for about 15 minutes or until it starts to gently bubble up from bottom

Adjust salt and pepper, add rough chopped fresh basil and Italian flat leaf parsley to taste. (for me that means a fistful – love both)

Simmer on very low for a couple of hours

Cook spiral pasta, as in the spiral shaped pasta that is called cavatappi. You can cavatappi_nudoalso use ziti.

Cook pasta according to directions and drain. Do not rinse

Get out your giant pasta serving bowl and ladle some of the sauce into the bottom. Next add on top of that sauce a third of the pasta you cooked – I cook the whole 16 ounce box.

On top of pasta add a healthy sprinkling of shredded Italian cheese – I like the six cheese Italian blend

Ladle more sauce on top, and repeat the layers twice more.

Top off with a little more sauce and cheese and some more fresh parsley.

Served with a salad, pasta coma guaranteed.

don’t go bananas now…

6…But it has been ages since I gave you a recipe.  So today, dear readers: banana bread.

It is another recipe born out of leftovers/things to use up.

Seriously, it is the only time I make it. Today, it was either use the super ripe bananas hanging on their hook or toss them. So Banana bread it is.  This is not super sweet.  I did not include nuts because I think that is so banana bread cliché but if you like nuts, use 1 cup chopped pecans or black walnuts.

Banana Bread

3 Mashed bananas (super ripe)

1 1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup Smart Balance oil4

3/4 cup 2 % milk

3 Tablespoons buttermilk powder

2 1/4 cups flour (white all-purpose not whole wheat – whole wheat makes it chewy as in overly glutenous)

1/4 cup milled br3an

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup raisins2

1/2 cup dried cranberries

grated peel of medium orange


Pre-heat oven 375 degrees.

Oil and flour loaf pan.

Mix milk, brown sugar,oil, eggs.  Add buttermilk powder. Add mashed bananas, mix until smooth. Add spices.  Add rest of dry ingredients. Mix until blended and smooth. Fold in raisins and dried cranberries (and this would be where you added nuts if you want them). Add grated orange peel.

Pour into pan.  Bake at 375 for 50 minutes (50 minutes is with my oven, yours might be more or less – keep an eye on it)

When bamboo skewer (looks like a giant toothpick if you do not know what I am talking about ) comes out clean, your done.1

Take out of oven and cool 15 minutes.  Then take out of pan and cool on a baking rack until completely cooled.  Enjoy!

This is not super sweet, but using brown sugar gives it a richer flavor I think. And yes, I love Nordic Ware pans.

improving martha

chesterHappy 2013 to one and all!   Let’s start the new year with a recipe!

So this holiday season I broke in a new hot crab dip recipe.  Not everyone in my house like artichoke hearts, so I had to find a recipe without them.

I received Martha Stewart’s cookbook Martha’s American Food as a Christmas present.  Truthfully it is a cookbook well worth purchasing or giving, but I have a habit of fiddling with recipes (even ones uniquely my own).  And I hate to say it because some giant hand bearing a whisk might pop out of the sky and smote me, but I improved Martha…or one of her recipes I should say.

She had a hot crab dip recipe, but looking at it I felt it needed some tweaking and additions, so I did that.  My friends have all been asking for the recipe, so here it is.  Note that my tweaks/additions appear in RED ink:

crab dipHot Crab Dip

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter PLUS 2 Tablespoons

1 RED onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (NOT whole wheat)

1 1/2 cups of HALF AND HALF(Martha calls for plain milk)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons dry mustard

few dashes of Tabasco sauce

6 oz shredded mixed cheddar (some cheese companies offer a shredded blend of mild and sharp cheddar. Martha calls for 4 oz)

6 oz of soft cream cheese (from the tub but not whipped)

Grated zest of one lemon and juice of that lemon (Martha calls for 2 Tablespoons, I just use a small lemon and call it a day)

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce(Martha calls for 2 teaspoons)

16 oz lump crabmeat, checked for shells (Martha calls for 10 oz, but most crab I buy comes in 16 oz containers, so that is what I used)

4 Tablespoons rough chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley (Martha calls for 2 tablespoons)

2 Tablespoons fresh dill rough chopped no stems

2 Tablespoons minced FRESH chives

4 Tablespoons minced celery

Salt and pepper (fresh ground)

8 oz loaf of rustic bread sliced into small bites  crust removed

English cucumber slices (for serving with dip when finished)

Flat bread or thinly sliced French bread baguettes. (for serving with dip when finished)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a generously sized saucepan (medium to large) melt the 1 stick of butter over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, celery stirring occasionally until soft and translucent (4 to 5 minutes)

Whisk in flour and cook while whisking constantly (or it will stick and burn) (about 3 to 4 minutes – Martha says 4, I found it took a little less. (medium to medium low heat)

Whisking constantly slowly incorporate half and half in a steady stream (I am not Shiva so I don’t have 8 arms or whatever so I did put my measuring cup down occasionally – Martha of course doesn’t do that). Stir and simmer over medium-low heat until thick and smooth (about 4 minutes).

Incorporate cheddar cheese, stirring well so it melts all evenly and then repeat with cream cheese. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, Tabasco, and Mustard powder. Incorporate well.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste. (you won’t need much). You don’t have to over think or over cook this – you just need cheese completely melted and incorporated.

Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl combine crabmeat, fresh herbs**, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir in the cheesy-oniony mixture and fold together, check for salt and pepper (to taste – I cook with less salt these days so I found little adjustment necessary).

Pour this creamy and goopy deliciousness (it does taste good even at this point) into a buttered one quart oven proof dish.

Set aside.

In a small fry pan melt that 2 tablespoons of butter remaining.  Toss in bread you cut up as per ingredient list, add salt and pepper and cook a little bit (couple of minutes tops) – bread will be goldeny and butter with a light coat of salt and pepper.

Arrange bread bits on top of crab dip in the casserole dish and bake in your pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes – keep an eye on your oven because this stuff can boil over at the end.

Remove from oven and let stand at least ten minutes before serving because when it first comes out of the oven it is like molten lava with a crispy golden crust on top.

Serve with flat breads, crackers, or thinly sliced French bread baguettes.  Place a cucumber on top of cracker, bread slice, or flat bread and then dip on top of that.

I do not think I forgot anything, hope you enjoy this.

**Please note that if you like Cilantro, when you add your herbs to the crab as above, you can add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh cilantro too.






pie they said, we want pie

Before we get into the pie of it all, I must say you know that your blog is getting popular when you get hit with 261 items of spam overnight.  Thank you WordPress spam filters for doing double time!

Anyway, sometimes a pie just comes together and my Thanksgiving pie was amazing if I do say so myself.

I made apple this year as per the request of my better half.  I made a double crust apple pie with dried apricots, raisins, and cranberries soaked in Calvados.  The crust was dusted with turbinado sugar and pink Himalayan sea salt.

Sounds yummy? It was.  So what I did was make a double batch of pie crust (I have given you pie crust recipes before so I am not doing again now), pulled out my vintage deep dish pie dish and threw my apple mixture in, sealed it up, did an egg wash and a little dusting (turbinado sugar and the pink sea salt) and voila! Yummy deliciousness!

I used about 8-10 small MacIntosh apples peeled, cored, sliced thin.  Tossed them with 1/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons corn starch, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, juice of 1 lemon, fresh grated ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, mace, and 1 1/4 cup of dark raisins, chopped dried apricots, and dried cranberries that had been soaked overnight in Calvados.

I cut my vents, added my pie bird and in it went to a pre-heated oven on a cookie sheet.  400 degrees for 15 minutes, and then 350 degrees for somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes (I forget – so if you are trying to replicate, you will have to simply keep an eye on your pie.)

My yam and pumpkin soufflé topped with toasted butter pecans was a big hit too – another made up mish mosh of a recipe, but I think I am keeping that one to myself for now.  And oh yes, I roasted my turkey the way I saw my late father do it time and again, and guess what?  It was not dry!

For the record, this chef is on strike for a few days.  Executing a fabulous Thanksgiving is like giving birth…and LOL my friend Pamela did just that. (She had a baby girl!)

No, I will not be shopping today.  Black Friday is against my religion. For the most part so are malls.  For those of you shopping, ditch the mall and check out Main Street.  I think supporting independent merchants, small businesses, and BARN sales is where it is at!

And if you are looking for that perfect hostess gift for holiday parties, or a fun present, consider my recently Blurb published photography book chestercountyramblings….four seasons!