Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beatty's Chocolate Cake, Barefoot Bloggers September

When we taste most things we try, we say, " this is a keeper" or "not so good." After this cake, we said, "Oooh! This is really good!"

The Barefooot Bloggers late September recipe was Beatty's Chocolate Cake, from Barefoot Contessa At Home. Go here for the recipe.

This was a pretty straightforward recipe for a dark chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream frosting. The thing that makes it different, that makes it "over the top," is the undertone of coffee. This is moist, sweet and delicious! And complex-- lots going on there. This is definitely a keeper.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Jan's Corn Muffins

The cornbread I usually make for the Harvestfest, while good, is very labor-intensive. So I'm determined to find an alternative that I can add/substitute next year to make the Saturday before the Harvestfest a little less stressful. I liked these, but they probably won't be a general favorite. (I like breads with a little more complexity to them than the typical white-bread lover does.) They are from The Dairy Hollow House Cookbook, by Crescent Dragonwagon.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


  • 1 egg

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)


  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar

Pour the buttermilk/vinegar mixture into the egg/honey/oil mixture.


  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1Tbsp baking powder

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

Add dry ingredients to moist ones, stir just enough to combine. Fill 12 Pam-ed muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I spent the day making 10 pounds of bean soup and 8 loaves of cornbread. The cornbread is from Crescent Dragonwagon and the Dairy Hollow House Soup and Bread Cookbook. I've been making it for years, and it is my go-to cornbread for our Harvestfest and any soup suppers that include bean soup.

3 Tbsp butter

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup all purpose flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup canola or other mild vegetable oil

3 T sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 tsp baking soda in the buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Measure out the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, and stir to combine.

In a second, smaller bowl, mix the oil, sugar and egg until blended.

In a third bowl, add the baking soda to the buttermilk, and mix to combine.

In an 8- or 9-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over med high heat. While the butter melts, pour the buttermilk mixture into the oil mixture until blended, then add the liquids to the dry ingredients, mixing with a whisk just until blended. (Don't overmix!)

With a spatula, scrape the cornbread batter into the the sizzling melted butter in the skillet, and immediately put into the oven. Bake at 375 degress for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand for 3 minutes, then cover the skillet with a large plate and turn the cornbread out onto the plate. Let cool and serve, or overwrap with foil while still slightly warm.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Daring Cooks September Challenge

The Daring Cooks Challenge this month was to make a vegan, gluten free main dish (or appetizer, depending on the size we made) of Indian dolmas with a chickpea filling and coconut curry sauce. Check out the recipe and directions here.

I made the dish in reverse, starting with the sauce. I combined the garlic and onions with the spices and cooked tham until they were soft and fragrant. I added the flour (I used buckwheat in place of the spelt, since I knew I would never use the rest of the bag of spelt and I would use buckwheat flour for buckwheat pancakes-- the idea was to be gluten free and buckwheat flour fills this requirement) and cooked it with the vegetables and spices to make a roux, then added the vegetable broth and coconut milk and stirred to make a smooth sauce. I added the tomatoes and simmered for 30 minutes. The resulting sauce was fragrant and looked just like the picture in the directions from Debyi who chose the recipe. Woo-hoo! One down and two to go!

Next I tackled the filling. I cooked the chopped vegetables with the garlic and spices until it had cooked down into a thick filling. (I substituted jalapeno peppers for the Hungarian mediums hot ones called for, since that is what I had in my garden.) I added the mashed chickpeas (I mashed them by hand so that some texture of the chickpeas would remain) and the tomato paste and cooked it all until thick.

Then I made the dosas, which are like buckwheat crepes. (I used soy milk.) Some of the Daring Bakers had trouble with these, but mine came out beautifully whole and perfectly cooked. Three for three! High five!

I put them all together and plated them, and took their glamour shot, and then we dug in. The resulting dish was... filling.

Beautiful, but bland.

Fragrant, but disappointing.

The sauce, which had 2 cups of coconut milk in it, had no flavor at all. The filling, which had minced jalapeno peppers in it, had no heat at all. It tasted good, but really was not the spicy dish we were expecting from the wonderful smells coming from my kitchen all afternoon.

Maybe it would have improved over night, as many tomato-based dishes do, but I dumped the rest without taking up the space in the fridge to find out. Not one of my better results.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers September

Well, this month marks my first foray into another online cooking group: The Barefoot Bloggers. (I know, I know, like I need another excuse to cook more goodies!) This group makes dishes from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, and you all should know by now that she is in contention for my favorite Food Network cook, along with Giada and Tyler. So, without further ado we have her Birthday Sheet Cake from Barefoot Contessa Family Style.

This recipe made me aware for the first time that the pan I have always assumed was a sheet cake pan, probably isn't, as the batter went up, up, up and over the sides of the pan into the bottom of my oven, where it began to smoke. It didn't set off the smoke alarm, thank Goodness.

The recipe was pretty straightforward and easy. The resulting combination of flavors of the lemony cake and the deep chocolate frosting will never be my favorite, but I have to admit, the combination is growing on me. The frosting is a chocolate lover's dream, though, and I think I'll try it on a chocolate cake next time, because it is so easy and good.

Monday, September 7, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons...

...or, in this case, mealy textured peaches, make Peach Blueberry Crumbles!

We were out and about in the Amish Country last week and stopped at a roadside market for some fresh peaches. The ones they had for sale were marked "Jersey Peaches." The sad fact is that the peach crop in Eastern Ohio was wiped out by the late cold snaps we had, and Jersey peaches were all that they were carrying for sale. But my husband loves a good fresh peach, so we gave them a try. Disappointed doesn't even touch the feeling he had when he took the first bite. So, what to do with the peaches so they didn't have to be thrown away...

I went to Google and typed in "peach recipe" and up popped Peach & Blueberry Crumbles, from Barefoot Contessa at Home. Bingo! Peaches, blueberries and Ina Garten, my favorite TV cook. It doesn't get much better than that.


For the fruit

  • 6-8 fresh peaches
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

For the Crumble

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
    1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

First I plunged the peaches into boiling water in my blancher for 30 seconds, then into ice water to loosen the skins, which peeled away easily. I sliced them into thick wedges and placed them in a bowl with the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar and flour, and tossed them well. Then I gently mixed in the blueberries, and let the fruit mixture sit for 5 minutes before dividing it up evenly among 6 ramekins. (mine were 7 ounce size-- 8 ounce would have been better.)

Then I made the topping by combining the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter and working it into a sandy crumble with my fingers, and sprinkled it evenly over the fruit in the ramekins.

I put the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and baked them for 40 minutes until the tops were brown and crisp and the juices were bubbly. I cooled them slightly and served them with a generous scoop of good vanilla ice cream.