Blue Cornmeal Applesauce Breakfast Bars

Blue Cornmeal Applesauce Breakfast Bar

  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cup blue cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom (optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 stick butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)
  • 1 cup dried figs (optional)
  • sugar and cinnamon for dusting

Heat oven to 400 degrees Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Cut in pieces of butter using a pastry blender. Add applesauce and sour cream and mix. The batter will be more solid than cake batter, but not stiff and dry like scone batter. Add optional nuts and dried fruit. You can experiment with different nuts and fruits, including currants, raisins, pecans, walnuts, or pepitas.

Roll into a log using parchment paper or wax paper. Then slice into  12 pieces and layer on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

Bake 15 minutes at 400, remove for a moment, shake some mixed cinnamon and sugar over the top and return to oven, lowering temperature to 300 for 15 more minutes.

These are a nice moist, breakfast/dessert bars. They are toothsome, hearty, and slightly sweet. Goes well with coffee or tea. A good afternoon snack. They’re not as sweet as dessert bread, but not as “healthy” as corn muffins.

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Oatcakes – Oatmeal Crackers

Smörgåsbord is a way of life for Scandinavians and open-face sandwiches and snack crackers like rye crisp are part of that tradition. These are my aunt’s oatcakes that make a delicious snack cracker sandwich.

Preheat oven to 325° F.

In a bowl, blend together

  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Add liquid and mix.

  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup hot water

Layer parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spread out the dough, pressing it flat to 1/4 inch. To get even edges, fold up the parchment paper and press until it is evenly flat. It will fill the entire cookie sheet so it’s nice if you use one with edges. I used a pizza cutter to cut into 24 squares before baking because it will crumble if you cut it later. The pizza cutter won’t pull the dough, so it’s easier than a regular knife.

I baked for 40 minutes, until it began to brown and then let it cool. It will crack apart where you cut. The oatcakes are delicious plain, a bit of nutty crispness. However, oatcakes are also a fantastic base for snacks.

Things I have put on oatcakes include:

  • Diced tomatoes and parm
  • Hard-boiled eggs and olives
  • Cucumbers, sour cream, and dill
  • Zucchini, tomatoes, and red chili flakes (Thanks, Eripom!)
  • Pepper jack cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Olive tapenade
  • Lingonberry preserves
  • Banana & Peanut Butter

Three Cucumber Salads

Cucumber Salad

Why three cucumber salads in one post? Because I got 15 pounds of cucumbers from the Food Bank’s Harvest Share program and cucumbers do not keep that well without some vinegar. So, I spent a long time slicing and dicing and mixed up three huge salads. Two of them based on my mom’s delicious old-fashioned cucumber salad.

This is mom’s recipe. Slice your cucumbers no more than 1/4 inch thick. I used a mandoline and easily sliced wafer thin slices. Layer the slices in a container with high sides, lightly salting between layers. I used Glad’s 13 cup family size container which held about 8 -10 large cucumbers, sliced. I put a sheet of wax paper over the container and set my cast iron fry pan on top of the wax paper and then put my tea kettle on top of that so it was weighted down heavily. I left it for a few hours and came back to add the dressing.

After two hours, I dumped the cucumbers into a big colander and let them drain. Rinsing the Glad container to get the saltiness out, I mixed the dressing right in the container while the cukes drained. I used 2 cups of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 TBSP of dill weed, 1 tsp of garlic salt, and 2 tsp of celery seed.  I squeezed the juice out of the cucumbers, added them back into the container with the dressing and refrigerated overnight so they absorbed back the fluid I had drawn out with salt. Now they are saturated with a fresh dill flavor that has a mild bite. Makes 10 cups of salad.

Cucumber Salad

I only made about 7 cups of this salad because I used oil so it won’t last as long. To make it I cut the cucumbers into 4-6 inch long lengths that I shredded on the mandoline, making threads of cucumber. I also sliced and diced finely two purple onions. I salted and let rest for about an hour. Squeezing out the excess, I grated the zest of two limes over the salad, mixing it in. Then,  squeezed the lime juice into a sauce bowl for the dressing. I added 3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar, 1/4 cup light olive oil, 2 TBSP of soy sauce, salt, pepper, and 2 tsp of red pepper flakes. I poured on top of the cucumber and onions, shook and let sit to absorb flavors for a few hours. This is a spicy, tangy salad with that delicious earthy tang of limes and the heat of peppers.  It’s delicious on a sandwich with pulled pork. Makes six cups of salad.

Cucumber Salad

These are pepper-salted cucumber slices, also a recipe from my mom. As before, I sliced the cucumbers, layering with salt until I filled the 13 cup container. I added weight on top of them and let them sit for two hours to draw out the liquid. I drained them in a colander, squeezing out all the liquid I could.

In the 13 cup plastic container, I added 2 cups of vinegar, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1 TBSP of pepper. I mixed together, Added the cucumber and let it soak up the vinegar overnight. This has a fresh vinegary taste with a bit of bite from the pepper, fresh and cool followed by just a bit of heat. Makes 10 cups.

Pear, Brie, and Hazelnut Yufka

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This was the fruit and cheese course in the six course Christmas dinner yesterday, a collaboration between my best friend and me. We had a lot of pears so it made sense to use them. I remembered this extraordinary Brie she had at Thanksgiving which I thought would make a great accompaniment. Googling for pear and brie recipes brought up lots of for a tart of crostini. With everything else, it made sense to go for something lighter, with less bread, a naan or pita, perhaps. Then I remembered a recipe in the fabulous Soframiz cookbook I reviewed earlier this year for Yufka, a flatbread that is a tiny bit richer than pita, light and delicate, but not a pastry.  It really worked perfectly.

Yufka Dough:

  • 1 2/3 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

Mix the salt and flour in a bowl, make a well and add the water and olive oil. Mix with your fingers until well blended. Then knead for a good three minutes. I counted to 180 kneading. Lightly brush with olive oil, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest 4 hours or more. I let it rest overnight.

When you’re ready to cook, divide into 2 oz portions. I used a scale. I expected it to come out to 6 pieces, but it came out to 7. Bonus! Roll it out as thin as you can, use plenty of flour to keep it from sticking. It should be thinner than a tortilla and about 8 inches round.

Heat a skillet or griddle to medium high. Do not grease. Cook on one side until it bubbles, then flip and cook on the other. About 2 minutes each side. These are partially cooked yufka that finish cooking whenever you do what you do with them.

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The Pear, Brie, and Hazelnut Yufka

  • Pears
  • Brie
  • Olive oil
  • Dried Thyme
  • Toasted Hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 400°. Slice three pears and 12 oz of brie. Lay the yufka on a baking sheet, lay down the layer of pears, add the brie, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle dried thyme over it. Put it in the oven to bake, just until the cheese browns very lightly.

Meanwhile, toast a cup of chopped hazelnuts in a dry pan.

Place each yufka on a plate, sprinkle with the hazelnuts and serve warm.

This was so delicious, rich and flavorful without being overly rich. Makes 6.

 

Pear Quick Bread with Buckwheat Honey, Apricots & Pecans

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I had three pears that were so ripe that eating them would have been a mess, so I peeled and mashed them with a fork and decided to try making a pear-based quick bread. I decided the molasses that I usually use for quick bread would overpower the pears and decided to use buckwheat honey instead. I also thought dried cranberries would not work well and opted for dried apricots, a milder flavor.  This takes no special equipment other than a bread pan.

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed pears
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat honey
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots (chopped small)
  • 1.3 cup chopped pecan

Preheat to 300°

First cream 1/2 cup of butter with 1 cup of sugar. I use a whisk, but if you have a mixer, use it. I used room temperature butter, but you can take cold butter, cut it into pieces and then cream it with the whisk. Once the sugar and butter is light and creamy, fluffy even if you have the energy, add the eggs, one at a time, whisking them into the batter.

In a bowl, mix the mashed pears and buckwheat honey together. If you don’t have buckwheat honey, use regular honey, but use a little less. Buckwheat honey is not as sweet tasting.

In another bowl, mix the flour and spices.

Add the pear mixture and the flour mixture about 1/3 at a time, so you blend thoroughly, first the pears, then the flour, pears, flour, pears, and flour.

Finally gently fold in the pecans and the dried apricots.

Pour the batter in the greased bread pan and bake for about 90 minutes. Test with a knife after an hour or so and see if it comes out dry. My bread pan is one of those very thick insulated ones, so I need 90 minutes, but a thin bread pan will cook faster.

Fry Bread with Apples and Yogurt

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I made these last month when it was too hot to turn on the oven, but wanted to make an apple dessert. I decided to make some fry bread with apples and yogurt.

To make the fry bread. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan. Use plenty of oil (1 or 2 cups), you can strain it through a cheese cloth and use it again.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup water

Mix together and form into four rounds. Drop into the oil, one or two at a time, depending on the size of your pan. You want plenty of space. When one side is done, flip it over and fry on the other side. Remove and rest on paper towels to drain, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

So, these are slightly savory apples. I put 1/2 TBSP of butter in a pan with some sliced red onions and a few rosemary leaves. I added two apples, peeled and sectioned, and cooked until tender but not mushy, adding a TBSP of sugar at the end to sweeten the onions a little bit more.

I served  half the apples with two fry bread and a spoonful of yogurt. This made two servings.

Bolillos with Soft-Scrambled Eggs & Dill, Asparagus & Tomatoes

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Heat a cast iron pan to medium-high, rise 4 asparagus and cut into thirds. Lay on the bottom of the pan and cook without oil or water until tender, turning so it browns evenly. Slice 8 cherry tomatoes in half and toss in and cook for 2-3 minutes with the asparagus. Remove from the pan, and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.

Cut two boltllos in half and lay them on the cast iron pan, turning the heat down low. Put a lid on and let them toast. The lid will help them heat all the way through, not just on the toasted side.

In another pan, on medium-low heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter. Meanwhile, beat 3 eggs with 1 tsp of dry dill weed. Do not add salt and pepper. Pour into the melted butter and scramble. This is a soft scramble, which makes a creamy, tender scrambled egg. It’s imperative you add no salt until the eggs are done or they won’t get the creaminess you want. Stir constantly until the eggs are cooked to a creamy consistency. Then add some salt and pepper.

Remove the now toasted bolillos, spread the eggs on the pieces, then place some asparagus and tomatoes on top.

These are a delicious blend of flavors, the creamy soft-scrambled eggs are wonderful foils for the asparagus and tomatoes. The crunchy bolillos are a good contrast in texture to the creamy eggs, juicy tomatoes and the semi-crisp asparagus. These make a nice light meal or great snack.

 

Pork, Pear and Grape Vinaigrette Slaw Sandwich

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One of the things I brought home from the Food Bank is a package of great sandwich rolls. They were a bit old, so I lightly toasted them to freshen, just laying them unbuttered on a cast iron griddle to toast lightly.

Meanwhile, I sliced about a half cup of cabbage and mixed it in a bowl with the Roasted Grape Vinaigrette I made last night. I chopped up the top of one fennel frond and mixed it in

After the bread was toasted, I spread some mayo on both halves. On one side, I placed several slices of Earl Grey Roast Pork. On the other side, I spread some slices of Bosc pear and the impromptu cabbage slaw.

This was delicious, there’s the savory pork, the sweet pear and the vibrant, tangy slaw all coming together. I will definitely make this again.

Oatmeal Scones with Dried Cranberries and Pecans

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These are incredibly easy scones that take less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit. Most recipes start with preheat and your oven is heated up long before your recipe is mixed. Not with this, even starting to preheat before you mix one thing, you might have to wait to get to 425.

In a large bowl, mix the following dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Combine the following wet ingredients in another bowl. Pour them into the dry. You can make a little well in the dry ingredients to pour the wet in as that makes it just a bit easier to mix.

  • 1 egg, beaten until frothy
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup of melted butter

Note: This recipe is so forgiving it does not care whether you melt the butter and add it with the milk and egg or if you mix cold butter into the dry mixture by hand until it is crumbly. You can choose. Either method has the same result. It is just slightly easier and faster to melt the butter in the microwave for 45 seconds or so.

Mix the ingredients so all the dry is incorporated. It will be a wet, sticky dough.

Put parchment paper on cookie sheet.

If you are ambitious, you can flour a board and roll it out into two circles about 1/2 thick and cut each circle into 4 pie-size wedges. I think it is just easier to roll out eight balls of dough and press them into 1/2 thick little rounds. Separate them so they are not touching.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until risen and browned.

You can serve warm with some butter, jam or cream cheese, but I like them plain with nothing else, warm or cold.

Makes 8 scones.

Figgy Yogurt with Apple Slices

Fig Yogurt

I had three fresh figs that were at their outer limit. I knew I would have to remove most of the skins to be able to use them, so I decided to try making a fig yogurt. This is too easy for words and so delicious.

I scooped the flesh out of three very ripe fresh figs and put it in a small bowl. I added 1/2 cup of nonfat plain yogurt and stirred them together. Then I added the smallest dash of balsamic vinegar and stirred. It was delicious, but I was hungry and wanted to make a larger snack, so I peeled and sliced up a Pink Lady apple and put the slices in a bowl with the yogurt. It made a great dip/sauce for the apples.

I have always though blueberry yogurt was the ultimate yogurt flavor, but it might just be knocked down a peg by this fig yogurt. It was sweet and tart and that bit of vinegar really just brought out the fig flavor without adding vinegar tang, It was delicious and something I hope to make again and again.

Made one serving.