Stir Together Cinnamon Tea Bread 

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Simply Scrumptious Stir Together Cinnamon Tea Bread

If you are looking for a “no mixer needed” quick bread that uses oil instead of butter and can be sliced to have with your morning coffee or tea, or used as a dessert for last-minute distanced gatherings, search no more.  Most of you will have all of these ingredients in your kitchen, so this can be assembled in about ten minutes, baked another 50 minutes, then voila! No mixer needed – another bonus for me. And this isn’t over-the-top sweet. Win-Win-Win … too many to count.

Yum!

Stir Together Cinnamon Tea Bread 

Makes one loaf or about 12 slices

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Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¾  cup white sugar 
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup 2 % milk
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil because that is what I had in my kitchen at that moment
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle and spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with Pam, making sure the corners are well coated   In a small bowl, mix together ⅓ cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon; set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and ¾ cup white sugar. Combine egg, milk, and oil and add to the flour mixture. Stir until just moistened.

Pour a third of the batter into the pan and spread it evenly.  Sprinkle with half of the reserved cinnamon/brown sugar mixture. Repeat with the next third of the batter and top with the other half of the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture.  Use the final third of the batter to top the bread.  Draw a knife (like waves) through the batter to marbleize it a little. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for ten minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap in foil and let the bread sit overnight before slicing.

Cooks note: I think a couple of teaspoons of grated orange rind would be a nice addition.

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Warming Breakfast Loaf

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Wonderfully Warming Breakfast Loaf

This is a simple, easy to stir together breakfast loaf cake that includes fruit and vegetables: carrot, zucchini, banana…so that is healthful, right?  Maybe not so much, but this sure hits the spot smeared with butter! And don’t we all need a little extra warmth and comfort these days?

I believe I initially found this recipe in a magazine, and then the Seattle Times printed it with a few minor changes.

Get out your box grater, a big bowl and a spatula and go for it.

Warming Breakfast Loaf

Makes a 9 x 5 loaf cake, enough for 10 nice slices

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Ingredients
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup avocado oil (canola works too, but I avoid it)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup grated zucchini
  • ¼ cup grated carrot
  • ¼ cup mashed banana
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with an oven rack in the center of the oven.

Spray a 9 x 5 bread pan with nonstick spray.  I always put a piece of parchment paper that fits the bottom in there, and then spray the parchment again. 

In a large bowl combine the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, until the mixture is smooth.

Stir in the flour mixed with baking soda and baking powder. Then stir in the zucchini, carrots, banana and walnuts until mixed.

Scrape the batter into your prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Place the bread pan on a cooling rack for ten minutes and then gently turn the pan over to remove the loaf.   Serve warm with salted butter.  Leftovers are great toasted the next day.

Enjoy!

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Pressure Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto

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Beautiful Butternut Squash Risotto

Years ago, so many many years ago that now it seems like a lifetime, my sister Susan and I went to Tuscany together. Our kids were all still young and living at home, but we managed to spend a little over a glorious week there.  On four of the days, we toured around in the morning and then returned to a villa at 4pm for a cooking class.

Most of the food we prepared at Tutti a Tavola was not fancy or difficult to make.  We made lasagne using dried noodles, pepperonata, tiramisu, limoncello, bollito misto and risotto.

The risotto recipe contained fresh pumpkin and required at least a half hour of standing at the stovetop stirring constantly.  For me, that is a non-starter and so I took the basic recipe and adapted it for my stovetop pressure cooker, subbing peeled and diced butternut squash for the pumpkin. This is a seven minute preparation that requires no stirring and comes out better than ever!

One thing I learned in Italy was to use liberal amounts of good olive oil when cooking.  Do not hold back – this imparts a marvelous flavor and a glorious silky smooth texture.  

I still order a case of Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy and use it for most everything and then give a few bottles to relatives who cook and who appreciate the gift. Mine is from my teacher Mimma’s vineyard – the Muricciaglia winery in Tuscany. It is so beautifully green and really earthy tasting – Olio d’Oliva delizioso!

The BEST EVOO

This January, I made this on a Sunday night for my husband and me.  Because we always dine at home, I try to create a nice atmosphere with flowers, napkins, beautiful food and theme music-here. For this dinner I found “Romantic Italian” on a playlist.  Somehow it makes eating a lot more fun and elevates whatever I make to restaurant quality.

Risotto con la Zucca (AKA Risotto with Pumpkin)

Serves 6-8

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Ingredients
  • ½ – ¾ of a large butternut squash, peeled and seeded, dice into ⅓-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbsp good olive oil for the squash
  • 2 cups of Arborio Rice (can be substituted with “Short Grain White Pearl” rice)
  • Another 2 Tbsp good olive oil for sauteing onion/rice
  • 4 cups (or 1L) of chicken or vegetable broth (lazy me, I use Better than Bouillon and boiling water)
  • 1 onion (or 1 cup, diced) or ¾ cup diced shallots 
  • 1 swig of white wine or dry vermouth (about 1 ½ Tbsp)
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese to finish
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions 

First, mix the diced squash and 3 tablespoons olive oil with some salt and pepper, and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes – until softened but not overly done.

Meanwhile, in the pre-heated pressure cooker on medium heat add the two tablespoons oil and onion or shallot. Sauté the onion or shallot on low until it becomes translucent (about 5-10 minutes).

Add the rice and lightly toast it to release the starch. When you add the Arborio rice to the onions/shallots, the rice will turn from solid white to translucent as it absorbs the oil and onion juice, then in about a minute back to white. Wait until just a couple of grains look golden and your rice is toasted! 

Add a swig of white wine and un-stick any grains from the bottom of the cooker and stir the rice until the wine has fully evaporated.

Add the broth to the onions/shallots, mix and close the top immediately.

Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.  For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower the heat to maintain it and begin counting seven minutes pressure cooking time.

When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure

The risotto should appear just slightly too wet. Stir, and the rice will continue to absorb the extra liquid in about 30 seconds. If the rice is still very wet, put the open pressure cooker back on a medium flame, without the lid, and finish cooking it this way – stirring often – until it reaches the right consistency. For a classic finish, melt two tablespoons of butter and grated cheese and stir in right before serving. Adjust for salt and pepper 

I add the cooked tiny cubed cooked butternut squash right at the end too.  By the way, this works with diced broccoli as well or a combo of broccoli and squash.

Leftovers reheat beautifully or you could add some egg and breadcrumbs, coat with panko and saute for a different meal.

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Brown Rice with Black Beans & Cheese 

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Hearty & Delicious!

The Winter Solstice…  It is the shortest, darkest day of the year and a day when I inevitably breathe a sigh of relief because from that point on, the days begin to get a little lighter.  Seattle is pretty far North, rainy and grey during December, so the sunrise happens close to 7 am and by 4 pm it is nearly dark.  In these days of isolation and staying at home, this is not good. Thankfully – I nearly always find solace in my kitchen.

Yesterday I pulled out a bunch of saved recipes I wanted to try at some point and stumbled upon “Cheesy Rice and Beans” from Kate McDermott’s blog tucked away in my stash.   I got right to work. I decided to use brown rice since I like the nutty flavor and I used black beans – although next time around I will try freshly made pinto beans.  I grated all the cheese by hand.  My two older Seattle grandsons, who are in my bubble, helped me make a double batch of this so that they could take a casserole dish home.   We donated some to Jakey boy and family and still had some left for the two of us here.  

My daughter called me after a harrowing day of work, and said it smelled so good she wanted to get rid of her kids, put on a bathrobe, crack a beer and eat the entire thing!  This dish is surprisingly good and filling.  All you need is a little fruit and a green salad or roasted vegetables.  It reheats beautifully and I see no reason why it wouldn’t do well in the freezer.  My entire bubble gave it a thumbs up.

Brown Rice with Black Beans & Cheese 

6-8 servings

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Ingredients
  • 2 ½  cups already cooked brown rice  (I do mine in the pressure cooker)
  • 2 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 2 brown-skinned onions peeled, cut in half, and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups 2 % milk
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • ⅛ teaspoon  of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans rinsed and drained or 2 cups home-cooked black beans, drained.  You could use pinto or kidney beans as well. 
Instructions

In a large skillet, add olive oil to the pan over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onions are barely browned. 

In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Stir in milk. Add dry mustard, nutmeg, salt. Mix the cheeses together but save ½ cup to sprinkle on top of the casserole.

Add cheese, onions, rice, and beans to the liquids and mix together.

Grease a 9×9 casserole pan with olive oil. Turn the rice, cheese, and bean mixture into the pan. Sprinkle ½ cup of cheese on top.

Bake at 375F for 40 minutes. Let it cool for about 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.

Cook’s note:  As long as you are messing up the kitchen, I think it is good to make a double batch of this!  The original recipe says to use whatever cheese you have on hand. Colby, Monterey Jack, Fontina, Mild Cheddar, Pepper Jack are all fine.

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Banana Chocolate Scones

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Seriously Delish Banana Chocolate Scones

This morning, I noticed a few bananas on the counter that were overly ripe.  A smoothie seemed too cold for December, I was over banana bread and banana pancakes and banana cake…so I did a search for banana scones.  This is my version, a combo of several recipes I found on various blogs and websites.  What did we ever do before the world wide web?  

These came out just like I wanted them.  I am only mad that I baked all eight rather than freezing a few for next week. Per my notes below – you can freeze the dough and bake it right out of the freezer — fresh scones in just a few minutes! Alas, I am now obligated to eat them all!!

Banana Chocolate Scones

Makes 8 Scones

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Ingredients 
  • ½ cup or 1 large ripe banana, mashed 
  •  ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  •  ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
  •  2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 stick cold salted butter, cut into half-inch chunks
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 Tbsp turbinado (raw) sugar to sprinkle at the end before baking
Instructions

Heat the oven with the rack in the center to 425°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mashed banana, cream, egg, and vanilla. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly with even pieces. Add the chopped chocolate chips and stir. Scrape the banana mixture into the butter/flour mix and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is barely combined.  

Place the dough onto a silicone mat or a piece of parchment on the counter – pat it into an 8 -inch circle. Using a sharp knife, cut the circle like a pie into eight equal triangles. (At this point, you could freeze the triangles well-wrapped on their sheet for another day. Bake them from frozen.) Spread the triangles at least an inch apart and sprinkle with the raw sugar.  Lightly press the raw sugar into the dough. 

Bake until the scones are golden brown and set – about 16-20 minutes. These turn pretty dark brown compared with other scones I have made but inside they were moist as can be.  Transfer the parchment paper/scones to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or room temperature.  If they last more than a day, reheat them gently at 300 degrees for five minutes!

Note: if you aren’t planning to eat all eight scones the day they are made, the raw triangles can be wrapped and frozen  When you are ready, bake them directly from the freezer!  I made another batch to try this and I baked three today from the freezer.  What a wonderful way to have fresh scones each day.

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Toasted Israeli Couscous with Spicy Eggplant

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Insanely Good Israeli Couscous & Spicy Eggplant

I recently found this recipe by Adeena Sussman and decided to try my hand with it since I had a large eggplant sitting in my kitchen – just waiting for a home.  The original recipe was supposed to be a meatless main dish, but I wanted to make a bigger quantity and have this as a side dish to serve along with fish, and then have some yummy leftovers for lunch. 

The original directions contained more couscous than eggplant, but you know me – I’m a veggie girl so I switched things up, resulting in a higher eggplant to couscous ratio. I didn’t include cumin because I didn’t have this spice on hand, but it turns out the combination of smoked paprika and cinnamon was enough flavor for me.  I boosted the deliciousness by adding a little chicken bouillon and a handful of diced garden-fresh cherry tomatoes as well.

We celebrated my son’s 41st birthday and I brought this leftover eggplant couscous. Everyone there (all family bubbled together) wanted the recipe.  I guess that means it was a hit for the entire bubble!

Toasted Israeli Couscous with Spicy Eggplant

Serves 10

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Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne (more or less depending on your love of “picante”)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous 
  • ⅓ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5-6 cups cubed eggplant with skin (about 1 large eggplant)
  • 1 large brown-skinned onion, diced ⅓ inch
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1  15 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • ½ cup fresh cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 2 cups hot water mixed with 1 tsp “better than bouillon” chicken flavor
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley to garnish 
  • Optional:  Yogurt with lemon zest and lemon juice mixed in to taste, for serving
Instructions

Slice eggplant into ½ by 2-inch strips.  Place in a strainer and mix with two teaspoons of sea salt. Let it stand over a bowl for an hour, shaking intermittently.  After an hour, rinse eggplant well and shake off the water then roll in a cloth towel to dry.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, cayenne, and one teaspoon sea salt and set this spice mixture aside.

Heat a heavy saute pan  (2 to 3 quarts) over medium heat until it is hot. Add couscous and stir every 20 seconds for about three minutes total until the grains are golden. Transfer toasted couscous to a bowl.

Add oil to the pot and increase heat to medium-high. When it shimmers, add drained eggplant, chopped onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring often, until onions are softened and golden and the eggplant is browned and slightly shrunken, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.

Add tomato paste and the spice mixture and cook, stirring, for one minute. Stir in toasted couscous, canned and fresh tomatoes and two cups of water/bouillon mix, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid, 8 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let this rest for two minutes. Uncover, stir in smoked paprika and parsley, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Serve immediately and dollop with yogurt mixture, if desired.

 

 

 

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Cinnamon Apple Scones

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Cinnamon Apple Scones – So Delicious!

Please forgive me for posting another scone recipe.  If you can believe it – this is my EIGHTH scone recipe! I simply couldn’t help it. I do live in the land of apples after all. And, it turns out these are just different enough from the other scone recipes on this website so perhaps I don’t really need to apologize.  PLUS – see previous notes about COVID baking. It’s a thing.

I have used King Arthur Flour for many years, and I swear by their flours – whether it’s unbleached, white whole wheat or bread flour.  So, when they advertised “cinnamon sweet bits” I had to see what that was all about.  This was my maiden voyage with these tiny bits. And now I am going to be using these cinnamon sweet bits in cookies, breads, and muffins.  PS – in addition to offering the most amazing products – King Arthur also has some lovely recipes … including the one I used as the basis for these scones.

I also decided to make these because the yield is 12 nice scones, not a huge or overwhelming proposition.  The coarse sugar/cinnamon lid makes them crunch when you bite into the scone.  I am going to wrap a few of these to give to my daughter in law who just gave birth to twin baby boys, and a few to my daughter whose three kids absolutely inhale everything I bake.  

I did weigh most of the ingredients so I could feel like a professional, but I am including cup measurements as well.  I would suggest that you get on the “baking by weight” bandwagon as soon as you can.  It’s way easier and more consistent. 

Put this in your pile of “I want to try these soon” recipes.  They will not disappoint.  

Cinnamon Apple Scones

Makes 12 small scones


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Ingredients 
  • 2 ¾ cups (326 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup fine sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder, sift after measuring
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick salted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • ½ large apple, unpeeled and cored and cut into ½ inch pieces (I used a Pink Lady apple)
  • ½  cup cinnamon sweet bits (order from King Arthur and tell them Queen Marilyn sent you) 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

½ cup unsweetened applesauce.  (I didn’t have this  so I boiled my other half apple, peeled and chopped, added some water and mashed it to make my own.)  

Topping Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp raw coarse sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp milk to brush the scones
Instructions

Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment to fit. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and one teaspoon cinnamon and whisk to combine.

With a pastry blender or fork, add the butter until crumbly.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly even.

Stir in the chopped apple and cinnamon sweet bits.  Add the egg/vanilla/applesauce mixture and stir to combine.

Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a 5 ½ inch circle of even thickness.  I use my silicone mat and transfer the raw dough onto the cookie sheet.  Repeat with the other half. Brush both circles with milk, then sprinkle the sugar topping (the three tablespoons raw coarse sugar and half teaspoon ground cinnamon, combined) evenly on each circle.  With a cold knife, cut the circles into six even triangles and space the triangles out on the parchment so they can spread.  Place the parchment-lined sheet into the freezer for a half-hour, uncovered.

15 minutes after the scones go into the freezer, preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the shelf mid oven.  Once the oven is preheated (mine takes about 15 minutes to reach temperature),  take the scones from the freezer and place them along with the parchment and cookie sheet into the oven and bake 18 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.

Let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes and then eat them warm with butter or whipped cream cheese.

Fresh from the oven

Leftover scones can be cooled and wrapped in plastic or sealed Tupperware at room temperature for up to four days. To reheat, remove the plastic wrap and tent with foil;  heat at 300 degrees for seven minutes.  

PS: When COVID is over, I plan to take a weekend class at King Arthur near Seattle.  Who is in??

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Korean Beef Bowls

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Beautiful Korean Beef Bowl

To keep my daily cooking anything but routine, I have found myself searching for and trying new recipes a few times a week.  I am so pleased that my weekly investigations led me to this Korean beef and cabbage bowl recipe.  I promise it is super quick and easy to make, and if you serve this over cooked basmati or brown rice, you’ll have yourself a meal that kids and adults will love.  If you are not a red meat eater, I bet you could use ground chicken or turkey  – but go for the dark meat so it doesn’t get too dry. You could also stretch this a bit with finely chopped mushrooms, using less meat. 

Korean food has a lot of familiar flavor profiles that you will see in this recipe.  Sesame oil, chili or pepper flakes (kochukaru), soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and scallions. It turns out that all of these spices and ingredients live in my kitchen 99% of the time, so this was a dish I was able to make at the last minute.  And, lucky me, there is a butcher right up the street who has amazing ground organic beef that was perfect for this dish.

The only warning I will give you is that making this in a hot cast iron skillet (best to avoid using a nonstick pan so you end up with crispy edges) produced crispy beef, however – the fat splatters everywhere.  That is not a deal-breaker for me – I just cleaned my stovetop (and floor!) when I was done cooking.  The smell lingers in my kitchen for a few hours and I love it.  I served my Korean beef with rice, but you could easily have some large iceberg lettuce cups if you prefer.  As a bonus, leftovers reheat beautifully.  

Korean Beef Bowls (adapted from The Splendid Table)

Makes 3-4 servings


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Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves minced garlic (I chopped mine by hand)
  • 1 Tbsp peeled, minced fresh ginger root
  • ¼ tsp hot pepper flakes (use more if you love spicy)
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup tamari sauce
  • 4 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 2 thinly sliced scallions for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds to garnish the top
Instructions

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat for four minutes.  Add the oils and swirl around until they are very hot.  Add the ground beef and press it with a spatula into a thinner, even layer.  Let it cook without stirring or bothering it for five minutes so that the edges become dark brown and crispy. 

Add the garlic, ginger and hot pepper flakes and stir to break up the meat, and cook another three minutes until it is mostly cooked through.  

Sprinkle the top with the brown sugar and add the tamari sauce, stir and cook for another half minute.  Add the sliced cabbage, stir and cook a couple of minutes until the cabbage wilts a bit. 

Spoon into lettuce cups or over rice and garnish each serving with sesame seeds and sliced onions.

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Bagel Baking

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A Beautiful Bagel!

I like to think I am not of the herd mentality – or perhaps I just want herd immunity.  Those of you who know me realize that is the truth – I don’t like to go along with a crowd until I think things through for myself, which makes me somewhat of an independent unicorn I suppose.  My need to be my “own person” translates into most things I do – how I dress, where I travel, and especially what I cook.

Let me back up.  The other evening during our 2-hour zoom sisters call, I knit while visiting with my sisters.  Kay was knitting too and Susan was….making bagels.  She completed the mixing and even cleaned her kitchen before we hung up.  Nothing like multitasking.  

I was intrigued, curious, and if I’m being honest, jealous about the bagels.  How hard could it be if she makes them countless times and could do it while talking to us?  AND she raved about how great these bagels were.  OK, I needed to be part of this herd.  We Klass girls have a need to join each other’s virtual lives – books we read, blankets we knit, and recipes we share.  Susan sent me the annotated recipe but by the time I opened her scanned copy, I had already reviewed the original recipe, made my tweaks (which were oddly similar to Susan’s!) and my bagels were already in the oven. 

Bagels – Boiled, Baked & Ready to Eat

So bagels it was for my next daily baking adventure.  Susan had used a mash-up of two recipes from the Washington Post that required Barley Malt Syrup. It just so happened our PCC Coop had the Syrup in stock and brought it to me via Instacart, nice people that they are.

At 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I rolled up my sleeves, called Susan to see if I could use regular yeast (yes) and in less than 15 minutes I had the dough made and formed and in the fridge.  The next day at 6:30 a.m. I was preheating my oven and boiling the water and getting ready for the final step. In less time than it took for my oven to preheat I had the bagels boiled and coated with black and white sesame seeds!  16 minutes after they went into my oven they were ready and after resting while I took a shower I sampled THE best bagels I have eaten ever.  Ever.  I am not a New Yorker but I truly believe these could give those highly-lauded bagels a run for their money.

I have to say this wasn’t even a messy project.  It does call for a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook (I have that and don’t get to use it much these days) ) and a kitchen scale (which I have). And King Arthur Bread flour – I have stockpiled that as well.  You need space in your fridge for a cookie sheet to stay overnight.  The only problem is that it makes just eight bagels and two days later, after gifting just two of them, I am sadly out of bagels.  No worries, I’ll make more dough tonight.

If you are a bagel fan or just curious, try these.  They will not disappoint! I highly recommend you read the recipe through a few times to get it right.  You might like to look at the original recipe because I tailored mine for what I had in the house and for the way I like to bake. (see footnote).  

Homemade Bagels-adapted from the Washington Post with changes

Yields 8 bagels, about 4+ ounces each

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Ingredients 
  • 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast (I had Red Star on hand)
  • 337 grams warm water (scant 1 ½ cups)
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp barley malt syrup (this is in several stores in Seattle)
  • 623 grams King Arthur bread flour (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tsp fine-grained sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp cornmeal for dusting the baking pan
  • About 1/4 cup sesame seeds (black or white or a combo) to sprinkle if you prefer sesame bagels like me)
Instructions

Measure the water and add the yeast and sugar in a 2-cup glass measuring cup.  For those of you challah bakers, this is the same way I start making my own challah!   Let it sit until it foams a bit then add the barley malt syrup and stir. 

In the mixer bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and salt.  Put on the dough hook and add the liquids.  Mix on low for about four minutes until the dough comes together, then turn the speed to medium-low and continue beating for 7-10 minutes or until the dough is formed, smooth and stiff.  It is stiff and that is why you can’t do this by hand!

Evenly spread the cornmeal on the bottom of a rimmed cookie sheet.  Turn the dough onto your counter and divide it into eight equal pieces, about four ounces each.  I weighed my total mass of dough then divided the ounces by eight so they would be equal. A little compulsive but…I like my baked goods to look professional. I then smoothed each ball of dough and covered them with Saran Wrap for five minutes at room temperature.  Full disclosure-a silicone mat works well for forming and resting the bagels. 

This is where I digressed big time from the original recipe, which had me rolling 11-inch snakes out of each ball and attaching ends together with water.  Halfway through this, I decided just to punch my finger into each ball and form a bagel shape, making sure the middle hole was at least 1 ½ inches in diameter and that the dough around the hole was even and smooth. Put each bagel onto the cornmeal-dusted cookie sheet as you finish shaping until all eight are done.  Be sure to leave as much space as you can between them as then rise a bit – it will seem crowded but you will be fine.  Cover the rimmed sheet with lightly oiled or sprayed Saran and find space to overnight these in the refrigerator for 12-18 hours.

The next day when you are ready to boil and bake, put a regular cookie sheet in the oven (so it heats too) and preheat the oven with the rack in the middle to 450 degrees.  Have 1/4 cup of sesame seeds ready to sprinkle on top (if you like sesame seeds).

Meanwhile, bring a large soup pot filled with four inches of water to a boil.  Get ready by having a cookie cooling rack ready and a piece of parchment that fits the cookie sheet (which is now in the oven) on the counter.  Carefully put four raw bagels in the boiling water at a time and let them boil for 30 seconds, taking a slotted spoon or a metal skimmer and submerging them gently into the boiling water.  Carefully remove the dough rings to a wire cooling rack and do the same 30-second boil for the next batch. Do not keep the bagels in the water longer than 30 seconds or you will get holes in the inside of the bagel.  Remove these to the rack.  While they are still damp, sprinkle one side (the rounded side) of the boiled bagels with sesame seeds, gently press down place each bagel seed side up on the parchment paper.  Be sure the bagels are spaced evenly on the parchment. Finally I grind some coarse salt onto the top of each bagel-just a bit.

Ready for the Oven!

When all the bagels are coated with seeds and the oven is preheated, remove the hot cookie sheet from the oven and carefully slide the parchment and bagels to the hot cookie sheet.  They will sizzle!  Put the hot cookie sheet back into the oven and bake for 14-16 minutes until the bagels are brown and crisp.  

Use kitchen tongs to move the bagels to a wire rack to cool.  Wait for 10-15 minutes to slice in half.  

*  Note: you might enjoy reading the original recipe from the Washington Post. There was a video as well that included the way they want you to form ropes when making the bagels. But my way is easier, trust me!

I have recently been using caraway seeds too.  My next adventure will be to substitute some rye or whole wheat flour in these.

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Black Bean & Sweet Potato Salad

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The Best Black Bean & Sweet Potato Salad

And…drum roll…I seem to be making a lot of salads sans lettuce this summer.  When people ask me what I most love to cook, I always say creative salads and soups.  Of course, I love baking but truthfully I prefer savory dishes.

This recipe I am sharing is a hybrid between two dishes from a few of my favorite recipe writers…Deb Perelman and Mark Bittman.  Mark is my age (well, maybe a little younger but not much) and Deb is a LOT younger and writes cookbooks and a fantastic blog.  If I were 30 or 40 something, I would want to be her yet I jumped on the blog bandwagon a little late in life.  But I digress…

This salad is so good, so tasty and so beloved.  If you are searching for a good dish to bring to a socially distanced picnic (sniff sniff) or just to have in the fridge, this might just fit the bill.  

Simple & Colorful Ingredients

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Salad

Serves 4-6

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Ingredients
  • 3 medium peeled sweet potatoes (I don’t use yams although they are more colorful, but sweet potatoes hold up better for me)
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 25 grinds fresh black pepper
  • ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds + 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch dried pepper flakes
  • 1 ½ cups black beans (15 oz  can or freshly cooked.  Don’t hate me, but I always have fresh black beans in my fridge or freezer)
    ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp chopped pickled red onions 
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (I love Valpreso)
  • Wedges of lime to serve
Instructions

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel and cut potatoes into half-moons.  Coat the sweet potato slices with the olive oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and roast for 15 -20 minutes until slightly brown.  Turn the potatoes and bake for another 15 minutes or until they are soft and brown.

Meanwhile, combine pumpkins seeds with two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and warm.  Let the pumpkin seeds cook until they are a little brown, about two minutes.  Remove from the heat and season with salt and red pepper flakes.  Put aside while you wait for the potatoes to cook

Rinse the cooked black beans (freshly cooked or from a can).  Add this to the cooked potato along with cooked pumpkin seeds, cilantro, and red onions.  Cut the avocado into cubes and add last.  Gently mix and top with feta cheese.  Taste and add more salt, pepper and pass a dish of lime wedges to squeeze on top of the salad.  This is great slightly warm or at room temperature.  

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