Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mom's super healthy zucchini bread

This loaf contains less sugar than most sweet breads, whole grain flour, and far less fat. It is a great bread to have handy for quick, healthy snacks or mid-day energy boosts.
Yield: 1 loaf

2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans
1 large egg + 1 egg white
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup skim milk
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated fresh zucchini

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees with the rock in the center of the oven.

Combine sugar, milk, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Add the grated zucchini and mix well.

Whisk together all dry ingredients.

Add moist ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into a lightly greased 9x5 loaf pan.

Bake for one hour. Cool in pan before turning out.

Mom's Zuchini Bread

On the sweeter side, this quick bread is a lovely addition to any brunch or luncheon tray. Sliced thin and served with or without butter, it will disappear in a hurry!
Yield: 1 loaf

3 eggs
1 cup canola or corn oil
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups unbleached white flour
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Optional: ½ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
               ½ cup raisins


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and add the oil, sugar, vanilla, and zucchini. Stir well.

In a separate bowl, blend the flour, cinnamon, salt, soda, and baking powder.

Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and stir to mix. Add nuts and/raisins if you plan to use them.

Pour into lightly greased 9x5 bread pan.

Bake on center rack of oven for one hour. Test for doneness using a toothpick or butter knife inserted 
in the center of the loaf. Bake for additional 5 minute increments if necessary.

Cool partially before turning out onto rack or cotton towel.

Rich jelly scones

These scones are a lovely "one step" breakfast or brunch item, as they are complete in themselves without any additional butter or toppings necessary. They can also be fashioned into rounds instead of triangles. Another variation is to simply brush the tops with the milk/egg mixture and sprinkle with sugar and/or cinnamon instead of using the fruit jam.

Your guests will "ooooohh...aaaaahhh" through every luscious bite!

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup very cold butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Thick jam or fruit preserves

Egg mixture to brush on the top of the scones:
1 large egg, beaten well
1 Tablespoon milk

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients together.

Cut butter into the dry ingredients using a fork or hand-held pastry blender. When well blended, the mixture will have the look of crumbly sand.

Add the vanilla, eggs, and milk, mixing only long enough to blend the ingredients. *You do not want to begin to melt the butter into the flour mixture by over-mixing.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter top or pastry board. Shape it into a round disc 8 inches across, slightly thicker in the center.

Using a long knife, cut the dough into eight even pie-shaped portions.

Place scones on a lightly greased baking sheet. Using a spoon, press a well into the wide end of each triangle, and fill the well with a spoonful of fruit jam. Brush the exposed surface of each scone with the milk/egg mixture,

Bake for twenty-five minutes, until scones are a beautiful golden brown. Cool on a towel or cooling rack.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cheddar, ricotta, and spinach biscuits

This is an "original" from our kitchen here at home! I am compiling a collection of original recipes that have been concocted by me, my parents, or family members from past generations that do not exist elsewhere...this is one of the recent additions! Give it a try...the spinach is almost entirely un-noticeable, so a good way to sneak in more nutrition. And unlike most biscuits, this recipe uses olive oil instead of butter to reduce saturated fat. Of course there is the cheddar cheese...if you are concerned about strictly low-saturated fat foods; you could leave the cheddar out entirely. These biscuits come out beautifully even without it!

2 cups white flour
1 T. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup finely chopped FRESH spinach (do NOT use frozen or canned)
1 large egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 T. olive oil
About 1/8 - 1/4 cup milk, just enough to moisten the dough

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix together thoroughly the flour, baking powder, salt, cheddar cheese, and spinach.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, ricotta, and oil.
Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, adding just enough milk to moisten the dough. 
**Hint** The dough needs to hold together without being dry or crumbly, but not so moist as to be overly sticky.

Drop dough by Tablespoonful onto a lightly greased baking sheet (rubbing a butter cube wrapping paper on the sheet is sufficient, only a minimum of oil is necessary). You should have twelve biscuits with one recipe of this dough.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for 10-12 minutes. 

**Hint** If you have an oven with a convection capability, do NOT use it. The convection feature circulates air inside the oven, allowing for even baking of multiple racks of baked goods, but it also tends to dry out biscuits. You will be happier with the finished biscuits if you bake them on a regular setting.

Immediately remove from pan onto a towel to cool, covered with another towel to keep the biscuits moist.


The Best Buttermilk Biscuits!

This recipe is playfully dubbed "The Killer B's: Best Buttermilk Biscuits!"

Okay, you might think that sounds a little silly, but after you taste these biscuits you just might change your mind. The recipe is quite simple and the result will have your family and guests ready because they will definitely ask for more!


1 1/4 cups buttermilk or sour milk
         *(Prepare sour milk by adding 2 T. vinegar to 1 1/8 cups milk. Let sit for five minutes.)
1/2 cup cold butter
1/4 cup frozen butter (Yes, FROZEN) chopped into pea-sized pieces
2 1/2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar

Turn the oven on to preheat to 425 degrees.

Place the flour, soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl. Sift these ingredients through a sifter or a fine sieve to ensure they are well blended and there are no lumps.

Cut the cold butter into nickel-sized pieces and add to the flour mixture. Using your hands, blend the butter into the flour until the butter is well-incorporated into the flour. Leaving the butter a little bit lumpy is just fine.

Add the milk to the flour and butter mixture, stirring to mix well.

Sprinkle the counter top lightly with flour, rub some flour onto a rolling pin, and roll the biscuit dough out to about 1/2 inch thick.

Chop the frozen butter into pea-sized pieces and sprinkle evenly over the rolled out dough. Fold the dough in half, then in half again over and over until it is back into a flat ball.

Re-flour the counter top if necessary and roll the dough out to about 1 inch thick. Using a glass, cup, or something round and about 2 inches in diameter, cut the dough into rounds and place them onto an UNgreased baking sheet. Quickly re-roll the leftover scraps and cut the same way until the dough is all used up (You should have 12 biscuits).

Bake the biscuits at 425 degrees for 11-12 minutes. Biscuits are done when they are nicely browned on the top. Cool on a wire rack or towel.

**These biscuits are not necessarily sweet, so are excellent for serving with gravy, as the bread for an egg breakfast sandwich, or simply with butter. Adding honey or your favorite jelly is always a treat.

**"So, why the frozen butter??", many people ask. The answer is the texture of the finished biscuit. That flaky, layered, obviously buttery finish is achieved through that frozen butter. When you roll it into the dough, it holds its form as the biscuits go into the hot oven...then melts as the biscuits bake. This preserves the layers and flakiness of the biscuit ad results in a crispy, browned crust on top.

**This biscuit dough keeps very well in the refrigerator for several days, wrapped snugly in plastic. So, go ahead and make a double batch and keep half for baking later in the week or on one of those sleepy weekend mornings!

As usual, I welcome your comments and I wish you a blessed meal!

Boston brown bread steamed in a can!

Yield: 1 loaf
My Grandmother used to bake this bread in a one pound coffee can, hence its round shape. It is steamed in a pot of water inside the oven, giving it a super moist, decadent texture. Boasting the richness of molasses, this loaf is excellent sliced thin for a snack tray or luncheon buffet, or sliced thick to round out a meal. With butter or without, this loaf is sure to please, but it is definitely the star of the show when served warm with a pat of butter. Let's get to it!

You will need:
  • 1 28 ounce can. These days, coffee in a one pound can is often difficult to find, so you can use a 28 ounce tomato or tomato sauce can, or perhaps a 28 ounce baked bean can. Just be sure to lightly grease the inside with a little butter to avoid the bread sticking.
  • 1 oven-proof pot (no plastic handles!) that is deep enough to hold the can full of batter and water deep enough to cover the can halfway to its top.

5 T. vegetable oil
2/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1 egg
1 cups buttermilk (Soured milk may be substituted: 
   Add 1 Tablespoon vinegar to 2 cups milk and let stand for five minutes.)
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup rye flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon teaspoon baking soda
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
2/3 cup raisins

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Have your baking can lightly greased and steaming pot ready. You will want the water to be boiling when you set the can of batter in it, so go ahead and have it heating on the stove top while you prepare the batter.

Whisk together the oil, molasses, egg, and milk until combined. It is not necessary to beat these with an electric mixer, simply combining them by hand is sufficient.

Whisk together the flours, salt, and baking soda. Stir in the chopped nuts and raisins.

Stir the wet combination into the dry combination and mix well.

Now comes the fun part! Your pot of water should be boiling at this point. Go ahead and pour the batter into the greased can, making sure to leave 1 ½ inches of space at the top for the bread to have room to rise. Cover the top with foil and crimp snugly around the edges. Set that can right into the pot of water and set the entire pot into the center of your pre-heated oven.

The bread steams in the oven for 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours, and the water needs to remain halfway up the can. Replenish with hot tap water as needed during baking to keep it at that level.

Cool the finished bread in the can sitting on a rack for at least ten minutes before removing. If the bread does not want to easily slip out of the can, don't worry! Just use a can opener to remove the bottom of the can and push the bread through.

Serve warm with butter and store any leftovers in the refrigerator...though I bet there will not be much left to refrigerate!