Steel Cut Oats with Chia Seeds

My dad is going to be 90 in a few months.  His conversations with same age and even younger cohorts frequently revolve around health issues.  Comparing blood pressure, cholesterol readings, everyday aches and pains, medications.  And, as the oldest child of that nearly 90 year old, I realize I’m getting older as I start thinking and talking more about things like colon health, good and bad cholesterol, heart health, etc.  when shopping for groceries and preparing our meals.

I have always liked hot cereals like cream of wheat, oatmeal, and remember malt-o-meal??  I was watching an episode of The Chew a few weeks ago where Michael Symon prepared what he called The Worlds Greatest Oatmeal.  I got online after the show and saved the recipe.  A “simple” breakfast which contained nearly 30 ingredients.  Michael Symon’s recipe uses steel cut oats, chia seeds, coconut oil and coconut milk.

Steel cut oats look more like rice than the rolled oats most of us are accustomed to.  They are less processed, take longer to cook, and have a chewier consistency and nuttier flavor.  Nutritionally they are not significantly different than rolled or instant oats.   Chia seeds are one of nature’s superfoods.  They come from a flowering plant in the mint family and date back to the Aztecs.  They are rich in antioxidants, fiber, iron, calcium and contain more omega 3 than salmon.  They also absorb as much as 10 x their weight in water so they help us feel full and satisfied.  All of that makes this a heart healthy, colon healthy breakfast.

My modified version of The World’s Greatest Oatmeal  uses some of the process and ingredients in Michael Symon’s recipe.  And, to be fair, his 30-ingredient recipe included a blueberry compote and a streusel topping which I omitted.

Ingredients:

1 T coconut oil

1 cup steel cut oats

3 cups water

1 cup full fat coconut milk

3 T brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 T chia seeds

Because steel cut oats take much longer to cook than even the old fashioned rolled oats it works best and is most efficient to start this before going to bed.

Heat 1 T of coconut oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and toast the oats for a couple minutes stirring constantly.

Add 3 cups of water and bring the oats to a boil.  Cover the pan and remove from the heat.  Let the pan sit overnight.

In the morning uncover the oats and stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and 1 cup of coconut milk.

Bring the oats up to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.  About 8 minutes into the simmer stir in the chia seeds.

Ladle into bowls and top with fresh fruit and a little granola for extra crunch.  (My granola recipe is on my blog.).  I used blueberries but you can use your favorite berries, banana, or diced peaches.

Add a little milk at the table and you have a very satisfying, tasty, stick to your ribs breakfast.

NOTE:  If you prefer not to use coconut milk you can substitute an additional cup of water, milk, or half n half.  You may also want to stir in some coconut flakes or chopped walnuts or pecans.

And yes, the chia seeds in this recipe are the same chia seeds that sprout “hair” on the clay heads sold as Chia Pets.

 

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Cinnamon and Cardamom Bread

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This stuff is amazing!  Love!

We just returned from a family vacation to New Orleans.  The land of great food, really wonderful music everywhere, and a plentitude of adult beverages.  And people watching.  We enjoyed poboys, gumbo, oysters, shrimp, catfish and, of course, beignets.  As good as our food was, whenever I get home from a vacation I actually kind of enjoy eating my own cooking again.  Funny how that works.

I had some organic milk in the refrigerator that was going to go south in just a day or so and I wanted to put it to good use.  I decided to make us some bread with my remaining milk and came across this recipe that I had clipped from a Saveur magazine early last year but had not tried.  Until today.  The recipe says the bread is Swedish.  But since I’m Finnish, today it is Finnish Cinnamon Cardamom Bread.  Whatever your ethnicity I think you will enjoy!  The kitchen smelled wonderful while this was baking.

Ingredients for the Dough:

7 T unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups whole milk heated to 115

2 tsp active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups AP flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, lightly crushed

1/4 tsp kosher salt

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Ingredients for Filling:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

7 T unsalted butter softened

1 T ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, finely crushed

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To make the dough heat the milk to 115 degrees.  Use a thermometer unless you’re a lot better than I am at estimating temperatures and you don’t want to kill your yeast.  Melt the butter and add the butter and yeast to the warm milk.  Stir and let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

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In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt.  Stir in the yeast mixture until dough forms.

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Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes.  Or knead in your stand mixer.  Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and let sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.  About an hour.

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Prepare the filling stirring together the softened butter, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom seeds.

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On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into approximately a 11×17 rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.

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Spread the filling over the dough.

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Working from one of the long sides, roll dough into a tight cylinder and transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cover with a dish towel and allow it to sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.  About 45-60 minutes.

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Heat the oven to 375.  Using kitchen shears and starting 1 inch from the ends of the dough, make crosswise cuts spaced 1 inch apart, three quarters of the way through the dough.  Now this is where it got tricky for me and my bread looks a little crude.  The recipe says to fan dough slices away from the center, alternating left to right.  Huh?  The center?  Maybe I was supposed to make this into a circle?  I don’t know for sure because I didn’t have a picture.  But it doesn’t really matter. The fanning does not affect the taste at all.

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Whisk an egg and brush the dough with the egg wash.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow the bread to cool before serving.

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I made up a little icing with powdered sugar, heavy cream and lemon zest.  Because we like icing.

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Cut yourself a slice and enjoy.  Great with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

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NOTE:  The recipe suggests that you use the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar before baking.  Since I was going to ice the bread I did not you the pearl sugar but you may prefer that.  If any of you bake a more attractive loaf please comment with a picture.

Blintzes with Cheese Filling

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About a month ago I brought my Dad home to Michigan’s Upper after he spent the Thanksgiving holiday with me.  A friend came along for the ride and she and I went to Marquette to check in at some of the local breweries and do a little shopping.  Marquette has some great little shops with locally made jewelry, pottery, wood crafts, art, and candy. We made lots of stops.  A candy store called Donkers that’s been in business since 1896.  A favorite restaurant that serves organic and locally sourced foods called Sweet Water Cafe.  A unique grocery called the Flying Moose that sells UP Sushi with venison.  I have never been a mall shopper so I really love the small, locally owned stores in Marquette’s downtown area.  I know this is a convoluted trip to my blintz recipe.  But while we were at a little shop called Touch of Finland I purchased a new sauna stove, a box of rocks, and a great iron crepe skillet.  The sauna stove replaced our old stove that died a few months previous.  The new stove was installed a few weeks ago and is working great!  I seasoned my new iron skillet yesterday morning and decided to make blintzes for brunch.  The skillet is working great!

Blintzes are my sister-in-laws go-to dish for Christmas brunches.  She buys them frozen and heats them up.  Don’t get me wrong, they are good.  But homemade from scratch is better.  Blini is the Russian name for crepes.  Blintzes are crepes that are filled with cheese or fruit and then sautéed or baked.  I’m filling mine with cheese filling and baking them.

Crepe Ingredients:

4 eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup water

1 cup AP flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 T butter melted for brushing the skillet

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Filling Ingredients:

1 cup cottage cheese

6 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

4 T honey

1 egg yolk

1/2 lemon juiced

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Prepare the batter by first whisking the eggs.

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Add all the other ingredients to the eggs and whisk until the batter is smooth.

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Refrigerate the batter for 30-45 minutes.  Heat your skillet over medium heat.  Brush the skillet lightly with melted butter and put about 1/3 cup of batter on the skillet.  Swirl the skillet to distribute the batter evenly and cook for 30-60 seconds.  Flip.  Slide the crepe out of the skillet onto wax or parachment paper and start the process over again.  Repeat until all the batter has been used.  (Makes about 12 crepes.)

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Preheat the oven to 350.

Now it’s time to prepare the filling and assemble the blintzes.  Beat all of the filling ingredients together with a hand mixer.  Brush a casserole dish with butter.  Put a couple tablespoons of the cheese filling on one end of the crepe.  Fold once, then fold the sides in like an envelope and roll.  Place the blintzes in the casserole dish seam side down.

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Continue filling and rolling.  Brush the tops of the blintzes with a little butter.

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Bake for 45 minutes.  I served ours with homemade apple sauce.

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Enjoy!

NOTE:  You can make fruit blintzes with an apple or cherry filling similar to what you’d use in a pie.  You can top your cheese blintzes with fresh berries or sliced banana.  Dust them with powdered sugar.   If you want to make a double batch, crepes freeze well.  Separate the crepes with wax paper and store in a zip lock freezer bag for use later.

The new crepe pan I got is a de Buyer.  It’s iron so it’s an excellent heat conductor.  Best used over medium heat.  I love my new sauna stove and I love my new crepe pan.

Buttermilk Pancakes

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Pancakes are one of the ultimate comfort foods.  Everyone loves pancakes.  Crepes.  Swedish pancakes.  Blintzes.  Latkes.  Pannukakku.  Kropsu.  My grandmother made the best oven pancakes (pannukakku).  Sometimes with egg, sometimes potato.  Potato were my favorites.  She made them in metal pans with a design in the bottom.  The pancake would puff way up in the oven.  We would eat them warm with butter and sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top.  We would eat them cold.  My mother made us pancakes with left over mashed potatoes.  She made a regular egg, flour, milk batter and added any leftover mashed potatoes we had.  Sometimes she would make my little brothers pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse.  We ate her pancakes with maple syrup.  For years I made my mother’s “mashed potato pancakes.”  They were my daughters favorite.  She loved to make  pancake sandwiches with any leftovers.

A couple years ago I got this recipe for buttermilk pancakes from one of my daughter’s friends.  He was making them for his family so I decided to try them.  I’ve been making them ever since.  Occasionally when I have left over mashed potatoes I revert to my mom’s concoction.  But otherwise, these buttermilk cakes are my go to recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup AP flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

2 T melted butter plus more for the griddle

1 1/8 cup buttermilk

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Combine and whisk the dry ingredients together.  Whisk the egg,  Combine the wet ingredients.

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Combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Do not over mix.  The batter will look a little thick and lumpy.

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Heat the griddle and brush with butter.  Use a 1/3 cup measure and scoop batter onto the griddle.  Cook 1-2 minutes per side.

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Add fresh or frozen blueberries, chopped pecans, grated Apple, or chocolate chips if you’d like.

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Serve with warm maple syrup, sliced banana or strawberries, meat of your choosing, or an egg.

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NOTE:  This recipe makes approximately 8 pancakes.  If you have guests and want to double or triple the recipe that works.  Keep pancakes warm in the oven until you’re done flipping and you can all enjoy eating together.  I’m sure that this batter can be made into Mickey Mouse cakes as well!  Make a memory with your pancakes!

Tomato and Cheese Tart

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I have taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging. Not from cooking and baking. But from blogging. My father was visiting for a couple of weeks and I made a lot of very basic meals that he really likes. Potatoes in various forms, pork chops, baked ring bologna, fish, spaghetti and meatballs. And I didn’t blog those dishes. I also spent quite a bit of time recently in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with my dad and cooking in his kitchen is quite challenging. No good chefs knives, an electric stove, and odds and ends of cookware…never exactly what you’re looking for.  You need to be cautious of expiration dates and the spice cabinet has salt, pepper, garlic, Lawrys, cinnamon sticks that should only be used for art projects, and a huge jar of mustard seed. Actually I SHOULD blog from his house because cooking there is more of a challenge but there is also no internet.   Now I’m back home and back to experimenting with recipes as well as blogging old favorites.   In a recent issue of one of my many cooking magazines I found a recipe for a Tomato, Bacon, and Gruyere Tart. I first made this as a savory breakfast dish for guests and later made it as a dinner dish with the help of a friend. Both times I modified the recipe. More modifications the second time. But both times it was absolutely yummy.   Both times I doubled the recipe and made two tarts.  The ingredients listed are for two tarts.

Ingredients:

2 thawed Puff Pastry sheets

1/2 pound bacon cooked crisp, drained and crumbled

2 cups shredded gruyere cheese

1 cup shredded asiago cheese

3 thin sliced heirloom tomatoes

1/2-1/4 cup diced onion

1/2 cup chopped baby portabella mushrooms

1/2 cup thin sliced fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of water for brushing the pastry

(The second time I made it I added the onions and mushrooms.)

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Preheat your oven to 400.

Roll out the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface into approximately a 10″x14″ rectangle and transfer to a backing sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Shred the cheeses.

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Leaving a couple inch border on each side sprinkle each sheet with half of the cheeses.   Top with the crumbled bacon, onion, and mushrooms.

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Using a sharp knife or mandolin slice the tomatoes thinly. If you are using heirlooms alternate colors.

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Fold the long sides over and cut small vents. Fold the short ends a little and pinch them together.   Brush with the egg wash.

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Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.   Enjoy every bite. We did!!

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When I served this for breakfast we has toasted cinnamon bread and fresh fruit.

This recipe is only limited by your imagination. You can change up the cheeses and add other veggies like thin sliced summer squash, artichokes, spinach or kale. I think I’m going to make it with gruyere and blue cheese next time.

 

 

 

Strawberry Jam with Balsamic

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One of the best things about this time of year is all the fresh local produce. And it just happens to be strawberry season in Michigan.  Last year I made strawberry freezer jam. This year I decided to do cooked jam. I did my first batch with lemon juice and lemon zest and two batches with balsamic vinegar.  With all the sugar the balsamic vinegar gives the jam just a little kick.  The Ball canning recipe says, “balsamic vinegar accents the strawberry flavor and gives the jam a robust taste.”  They are right. It’s a perfect addition.

Ingredients:

5 cups “smashed” strawberries

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice + zest of one lemon

OR

1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice and 3 T balsamic vinegar

1 pkg fruit pectin

7 cups granulated sugar

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I used the old fashioned water bath. The first thing you need to do is put your clean canning jars into the water bath along with the lids and rings, crank up the heat and sterilize everything. I leave them in the water bath while I’m cooking the jam. Check your jars carefully before putting then in for any cracks or little chips on the lips of the jars which will prevent a proper seal.

Wash, hull and halve the berries. I use my potato masher to smash them up some.

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Once you have 5 cups of smashed berries add the lemon juice and lemon zest OR the lemon juice and balsamic. Stir to combine and put in a heavy kettle.  Gradually stir in the pectin.

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Cook over high heat stirring constantly until you can no longer stir away the boil.

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Add all 7 cups of sugar at once stirring to dissolve.

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Return the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for one minute stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. If necessary skim off any foam. Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.

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I use a canning funnel so I make less of a ladling mess.   I still make a mess. But the funnel helps. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth, center the lid on the jar and tighten the band. Repeat until all of the jam is jarred. If, at the end of ladling you don’t have a full jar, put the last of the jam in a container and refrigerate once it cools. Process the jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  The water should be about an inch above the tops of the jars.  After 10 minutes remove jars and cool. Now you can enjoy your homemade strawberry jam all through the year.

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We had some this morning on a slice of awesome Old Country Rye that we bought from the Trenary Bakery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A good strong cup of coffee and toast with strawberry jam…a perfect breakfast.

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NOTE:  One of the things I learned while making three batches of this jam is that a ten pound bag of sugar is almost exactly 21 cups.  And 7 quarts of strawberries equals about 15 cups of smashed berries.

Eggplant for Breakfast

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I rarely watch Rachael Ray but on a cold, stay at home, afternoon last week we were watching. And Rachael made her husband an eggplant breakfast. Eggplant, wilted kale and spinach, pancetta, and poached eggs topped with a bechamel sauce. This is my own interpretation of Rachael’s eggplant breakfast which was our breakfast Monday and our dinner tonight. It’s our new favorite.

Ingredients:  (Breakfast for two)

Eggplant slices

1/4 cup of flour

2 eggs beaten

1 cup panko crumbs

1 cup asiago grated cheese (divided)

4 T olive oil

oven roasted tomatoes (see my October 27, 2014 post)

Bacon fried crisp

4 eggs

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Slice your egg plant rounds about 1 inch thick. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Dip rounds in flour, then egg, then in panko crumbs mixed with 1/4 cup grated asiago cheese.

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Fry until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towel and keep warm in the oven until assembly.

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Fry your bacon until it’s crispy, unless you like it more flexible. Once it’s cooked to your liking put it on a plate lined with pepper towel and keep it warm in the oven until assembly.

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Cook the eggs to your liking. Poached, over easy. Whatever you prefer.

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Now you’re ready for assembling. First the eggplant, then the tomatoes, then the bacon, then the egg, and finally a generous sprinkle of the asiago cheese.

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And there you have it. Simple. Delicious. Even a tad bit elegant.

I have always liked eggs Benedict but ask for my hollansaise on the side. Some of you may prefer this dish with the bechamel. You’re welcome to make whatever modifications suit your taste.   To me the key is building on the eggplant.

Serve this with some toasted sourdough, a dish of fresh fruit and maybe a mimosa.

 

Pulla – Finnish Cardamom Bread

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Okay!  It’s the Finnish Dish and finally!  A real Finnish dish. My grandmother used to make it best. She would make several loaves at a time and we would enjoy a slice or two with coffee. Whole cardamom seeds are a must vs ground cardamom. This bread reminds me of the unique way my grandfather used to drink coffee. Grandma always made coffee on the stove top in a percolator. No Mr. Coffee, Bunns or Keurigs. So the coffee was VERY hot. My grandpa would pour coffee from his cup into his saucer, balance the saucer on one hand and drink it with a lump of sugar in his cheek and a slice of buttered pulla to go with his coffee.   But I digress. Let’s make a loaf.

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2 tsp dry yeast

3/4 cups plus 2 T milk

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 T sugar

1 T whole cardamom seeds

2 eggs beaten

4 T unsalted butter melted

egg glaze made with 1 egg yolk beaten with one T water

Sprinkle yeast over warmed milk and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center and pour in dissolved yeast. Use a wooden spoon to draw in enough flour to form a soft paste. Cover the bowl with a dishcloth and let it sit for 20 minutes until frothy and risen.

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Add the sugar, cardamom seeds,  beaten eggs, and melted butter to the flour well. Mix in the flour from the sides to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, shiny and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or you can knead in a mixer with a dough hook. After kneading put the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with a dish towel, and let it rise until doubled in size. About 2 hours.

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Preheat oven to 350. Punch down and let the dough rest 10 minutes. Divide into 3 equal pieces and roll to form 3 ropes (about 16 inches each). Attach the ropes and braid. Place on a buttered baking sheet, cover with a dish towel and proof until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.

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Brush with egg glaze and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes until richly golden and hollow sounding when tapped from underneath. Cool on wire rack.

If you’re Finnish or grew up around people who were hopefully each slice will bring back happy memories. If you grew up eating challah it may remind you of that. Pulla makes great toast, French toast or grilled sandwiches.

I watched an awesome video recently of a French lady making a variety of braided breads. Some had three ropes, some four, some five…  They all looked easy when she did them. I tried the one with four ropes that I thought I remembered. Well, I didn’t remember and after several failed attempts to make it look as awesome as hers I gave up and just did my best. Hence the irregular shape of my finished product. Next time I’ll stick with three ropes.

TIP: I was always told that when dissolving yeast the water/milk should be the temperature of a baby’s bath. If you’re unsure use a cooking thermometer. Yeast can be killed by temps of 130F or over. Ideal temp is approximately body temp, 98.6F.

Lemon Poppyseed Loaf

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Today was a baking day. I found a recipe for lemon loaf and made some modifications including the poppy seeds. I remember having lemon poppy seed muffins frequently at the Courtland Room in Jacobsons and when I tasted this loaf it reminded me a lot of those muffins.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 T poppy seeds

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 T butter at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp lemon extract

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 T lemon zest

1/2 cup canola oil

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Preheat oven to 350. With a hand mixer on low speed beat the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract, and lemon juice until well combined. Whisk together dry ingredients including lemon zest and poppy seeds and gradually add to egg mixture beating on low until well combined. Add canola oil and mix well.

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Pour batter into a greased 9×5″ loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. After 10 minutes or so invert the pan.  Allow the loaf to cool completely before adding the glaze.

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

2 T milk or lemon juice

Add the liquid to the powdered sugar gradually and continue whisking until the glaze is smooth and has a good drizzling consistency.  You may not need a full 2 T of liquid. I used lemon juice for my glaze because I liked the additional tartness.

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This will be a new favorite for us. I have some key lime extract so I may try using that with key lime juice and zest for a little different taste experience. But it’s all good.

TIP:  If you have extra lemon or lime juice measure it out, put it in a zip lock snack bag, and store in your freezer. Next time you need fresh lemon juice for a recipe and you have no lemons you’ll be glad you saved that extra juice.

Spiced Peaches

I have been in a bit of a canning frenzy lately. Produce has looked particularly beautiful  this year and once I got started I didn’t want to stop. One of my favorite new recipes is for spiced peaches. I bought a bushel of peaches and did half of them in a light syrup, spiced nearly half a bushel and made jam out of the remainder. I found peeling peaches much more time consuming and challenging than peeling beets and tomatoes. I dropped them into boiling water and then into an ice bath just like tomatoes but the peach skin wasn’t quite as cooperative. The first thing you need to do is get rid of the fuzzy peach skin and then we can start spicing the peaches.

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As with any canning project you will need to sterilize your jars in a boiling water bath.

You will need:

Approximately 40 peaches peeled and sliced

7 cups of  sugar

2 cups of water

1 cup white vinegar

2 cinnamon sticks crushed (I wrapped them in a dish towel and smashed them with a hammer)

12 whole cloves

Combine sugar, water, and vinegar in a large heavy kettle.   Bring to a boil and continue to simmer until liquid begins to thicken. Add peaches and spices and simmer until peaches are thoroughly heated.

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Once the fruit is heated fill your prepared jars with the peaches and cover with the syrup leaving a half inch of head space. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes. Remove jars to a towel to cool.

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You can can your peaches whole, halved or sliced.

These peaches can replace syrup on your pancakes or waffles, spice up your oatmeal, add interest to ham, pork chops or chicken, or serve as an ice cream topping. Or just eat them out of the jar.  If you like peaches you will love these!