Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
|Whole wheat cheddar soda bread. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
Whole Wheat Cheddar Soda Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat)
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups buttermilk (use whole buttermilk, if you can find it)
Milk or cream to brush on top of loaves
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet with vegetable oil.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, oats, baking soda and salt. Add the Cheddar cheese and mix thoroughly (hands are good for this).
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the buttermilk and stir with a fork until incorporated, but just. Using your hands, pull the mixture into a dough and lightly knead a few times.
4. Pat the dough into two rounds, place on baking sheet and, using a knife, cut an X into the top. Brush the tops of the rounds with milk or cream or whatever dairy is appropriate and handy.
5. Bake at 375 for 35 to 45 minutes, or until browned. You may need to use a toothpick to determine if the interior is wet. If so, bake for a few more minutes, until toothpick comes out dry. Cool on rack.
|Whole wheat Cheddar soda bread. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
Friday, March 9, 2012
|Green bean soup with butter and chives. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books.|
This is my contribution to the #LetsLunch Twitter party. March's theme is Green and since I'm not allowed to write about my Tastes Just Like Chicken Frog Leg Fricasee with Parsley Sauce, I'll submit my second favorite green recipe, for my favorite green bean soup.
Before discovering this green bean soup recipe, I only made green beans one way: cooked to death in pork stock, like any true Southern cook should. This method works very well for the flat, hearty Romano or pole beans that came in the summer. But what about the skinny, delicate beans that are available now? A couple years ago, I discovered a creamy green bean soup recipe, and what a revelation it was, because it combines a technique and a vegetable in a unique way.
The first time I saw the recipe, I thought Blech. Baby food. We don't do those little jars in my house anymore. The kids eat real, whole foods, just like the grownups. Facing an abundance of CSA green beans and knowing that more would be in my near future, I made the soup and now I'm hooked. Try it. And if you think of a clever name to tell the kids, let me know. Both of my girls pronounced the soup delicious, although they weren't crazy about the name "Green Soup."
Green Bean and Vidalia Spring Onion Soup with
Lemon Spring Onion Butter
Lemon Spring Onion Butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
One Vidalia spring onion, trimmed, sliced, (whites and a fair portion of the greens)
Fresh juice from half of one lemon
1 small garlic clove
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine first four ingredients in food processor and pulse until combined. Season to taste and set aside for serving.
Use homemade chicken or vegetable broth, if you have it on hand. Here's my primer for an easy vegetable broth.
2 Spring Vidalia onions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound green beans, trimmed and broken into 2-inch lengths
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper
Optional: any appropriate herbs that you may have kicking around - tarragon is especially nice. I can imagine that dill would be pleasant. You can never go wrong with chives. Just chop finely and garnish soup before serving.
Very optional: A dairy component such as cream or half-n-half, up to a ½ cup.
1. For the soup, melt butter in a saucepan and cook onion until translucent. Add the beans and cook for about 5 minutes. Add a ½ cup of broth or water to the beans, cover with a lid and let steam until the beans are tender, about 10 minutes. In a separate pan, heat the vegetable broth until very warm. Check on the beans after five minutes to ensure that they are at their brightest when you pull them off the heat. You want a spring green, not a camouflage green.
2. Puree the beans soup in a blender or food processor, taking all necessary precautions because you’re dealing with hot vegetable matter. Gradually add the warm vegetable broth. (I like a rustic puree, but if you're of the silky-smooth texture school, you may want to run the soup through a sieve.) Return pureed soup to the pan and add the cream, if you're using. The dairy is nice, but it mutes flavor and I like my soup intensely green.
3. Find your favorite soup plates and pour out a portion of the soup. Place a spoonful of the lemon butter in the middle of the soup. Makes about 2 reasonable servings.
Check out the shades of green in the rest of the #LetsLunch posts:
How to Brew a Better Pot of Tea from Grace at HapaMama
Green Chorizo from Felicia at Burnt-Out Baker
Pandan Tapioca from Charissa at Zest Bakery
Natanya’s Guacamole from Lisa at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Notos Pesto from Ellise at Cowgirl Chef
Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes from Cathy at ShowFood Chef
Asparagus with Poached Egg from Karen at Geofooding
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
|Which is the Meyer lemon? The smaller, smooth-skinned fruit on the right is the Meyer. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books.|
Those aren't identical twins in the picture, they're fraternal - a standard lemon and Meyer lemon. Meyers are a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange and are less acidic than the usual lemons. Give them a try in your everyday lemon recipes - the orange flavor will make a subtle and pleasing difference. I used them in my favorite lemon curd recipe, yielding a pretty orange-yellow lemon jam.
|Luscious, orange-tinted Meyer lemon curd. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
I use this lovely lemon curd in coconut macaroon tarts and as a filling in lemon meringue pie. It's also the perfect over-the-top indulgence with a homemade blueberry buttermilk scone.
2 1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp lemon zest
1 cup cold water
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1. Whisk the sugar with the cornstarch and lemon zest in a saucepan, until well mixed, then gradually whisk in the cold water and the lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat.
2. Lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl until smooth, then gradually whisk about 1/4 of the hot lemon mixture into the eggs. Whisk constantly to keep the mixture smooth. Add the warmed egg mixture slowly back to the saucepan with the remaining hot lemon mixture, still whisking constantly.
3. Cook mixture, whisking constantly, still over medium heat, until thick and glossy. Remove from heat and whisk in the unsalted butter. Cool, then cover and chill thoroughly. Mixture can be held in the fridge for up to a week.
|Meyer lemon curd. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
Thursday, March 1, 2012
|Meyer lemon tea loaf. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
My love of lemon is well-documented in this blog - lemon pudding, lemon scones, lemon ice cream, and lemon cream cheese pound cake are just a few of my favorites. That fresh citrus scent fills my kitchen and makes my heart happy.
And just when I thought a lemon was a lemon was a lemon, Meyer lemons appeared (finally!) in my local markets. Meyers are a cross between true lemons and a Mandarin orange - the skin is smoother and the taste is less acidic than the standard Eureka or Lisbon lemons. The can be substituted for regular lemons in recipes to add a subtle orange flavor. Try them.
Meyer Lemon Tea Loaf
Yield: 2 loaves
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
Zest of 2 Meyer lemons
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
For glaze: ½ cup sugar dissolved in juice of 2 lemons
1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare two loaf pans using baking spray or greasing with butter.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Add lemon rind. Sift together dry ingredients, then add alternately to the batter with milk. Pour batter into prepared baking pans.
3. Place pans in 350 oven and bake for 45 minutes. Bake until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks.
4. While cake is cooling, dissolve sugar in the juice of two lemons. Slowly pour glaze over cakes and let cool.