December 22, 2011

What to Eat Christmas Morning?

Let them Eat Cake!



I know you're in a hurry. I am too. So, let's cut to the cake. This sour cream beauty is dense and moist and will fill your kitchen with the toasty scent of cinnamon. The recipe is inspired by one from ZINGERMAN'S BAKERY, that Ann Arbor icon and is based on old old-timey recipe from Betty Crocker according to Z's pastry chef. You can make today while you're doing other stuff, it keeps beautifully once cooled and wrapped. (Leftover slices are terrific toasted.)

You probably have what you need on hand (flour, butter, sour cream or yogurt, brown & white sugar, eggs, cinnamon and nuts). Don't sweat it if you don't have exactly these ingredients. You can substitute just about any yogurt for the sour cream (if you use berry yogurt, it will have a hint of berries); if you're out of nuts, use granola. Or, throw in chocolate chips instead. Whatever. Come Christmas morning. Let's all eat cake.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Makes one 10-inch Bund Cake

STREUSEL
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, softened

BATTER
1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.

In a small bowl, cut together the streusel ingredients with two knives or your fingers to make a soft, crumbly mixture. (Or, do this in a food processor.)

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar and then beat in the eggs, sour cram and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients, mixing until smooth. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with half of the streusel mix. Pour the rest of the batter over this and sprinkle with the remaining mixture. Bake about 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes up clean. Check the cake halfway through baking, and if it is browning too quickly, cover it with a piece of lightly buttered aluminum foil. Allow the cake to cool slightly beore removing from the pan. It's great served warm.


December 15, 2011

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS!


The Most Delicious Read of the Year!



White Truffles in Winter, by N.M. Kelby is perhaps the next best thing to living and dining in France. Don't stroll, run to the nearest bookstore. It's all over and get at least two. One for you and one to give. I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. Here's a link to a review. 

While you're at it, pick up some wonderful dark chocolate and make truffles to give with the book. These are easy and quick. Save some for yourself to enjoy while you sink into the story, layered with lust and intrigue and lush dinners and wonderful cooking. It, like good chocolate and wine, is meant to be savored and enjoyed.

Meet Kelby at Lucia's Wine Bar - 1432 W. 31st St. Mpls., 612-825-1572 and sip and nibble (and pretend you're in Paris).

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Makes about 20 to 24

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
¼ cup Grand Marnier
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring constantly to blend. Gradually stir in the cream until the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Turn the chocolate mixture into a low bowl and refrigerate until it is cool and stiff, about 1 hour.

Sift some cocoa powder onto a plate. Line another plate with waxed paper. Use two spoons or your hand to make small balls, about 2 inches in diameter, out of the chocolate mixture and roll them in the cocoa powder. Place the truffles on the waxed paper and serve immediately or place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a day. 

December 12, 2011

Cheese Glorious Cheese!


Gorgeous Gifts
from Shepherd's Way Farms


Shepherd's Way just made my Christmas a whole lot easier. I'm ordering boxes of cheese to send to family and friends in New Jersey, plus a few to bring as gifts to the holiday open houses coming up soon. The boxes are packed with a selection of the award-winning artisan farmstead sheep cheese ready to ship out. (You can also order boxes that include amazing lamb sausage.) 

Better yet, give the gift that gives all year long -- a cheese CSA -- or classes in cheese-making (February 12 and March 11).  Custom classes are also available; as are private tours and tasting parties.

For more information, e-mail the folks at Shepherd's Way -- farmfriends@earthlink.net.

To learn more
Come taste and talk
 Lucia's Bakery, Wed., Dec. 14, 5 - 7 

Cranberry Ginger Salsa
Makes 1 cup

This is delicious served on the cheese board and comes together in a flash.

1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup crystalized ginger

Put the cranberries and ginger into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the cranberries are finely chopped. This will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator about 1 week.



December 5, 2011

HERE COME THE HOLIDAYS!

Count Down!

You don't have to make EVERYTHING yourself (but I have a few pretty good and simple ideas for one or two).  That said, there is still time to order up just the right present for your favorite foodies. 

PORK!
Fischer Family Farms Gift Boxes
(best chops, bacon, tenderloin, ham and maple coil sausage EVER!) 
Call Tim at 507-351-351-9910 
fischerfamilyfarmspork.com


SAY CHEESE, PLEASE
Shepherd's Way Farms Cheese
Go to Shepherd's Way Farms 
www.shepherdswayfarms.com
507-663-9040
order Gift Boxes TODAY!

OR 
MAKE IT YOURSELF!

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Makes about 20 to 24

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
¼ cup Grand Marnier
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring constantly to blend. Gradually stir in the cream until the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Turn the chocolate mixture into a low bowl and refrigerate until it is cool and stiff, about 1 hour.

Sift some cocoa powder onto a plate. Line another plate with waxed paper. Use two spoons or your hand to make small balls, about 2 inches in diameter, out of the chocolate mixture and roll them in the cocoa powder. Place the truffles on the waxed paper and serve immediately or place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a day.

CRANBERRY CORDIAL

Makes 1 quart

1 cup fresh cranberries
1 quart vodka
2 tablespoons sugar

Crush the cranberries and put them in a large jar with the vodka and sugar. Cover the jar and let the vodka infuse for 24 hours. Strain out the cranberries and transfer to cordial bottles.

HAZELNUT AND DRIED CHERRY BISCOTTI

Makes about 24 biscotti

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs beaten
1 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts
¼ cup dried cherries plumped in ½ cup apple cider

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it.

Stir together the flour, salt, baking powder and brown sugar. Mix in the eggs, and then fold in the nuts and the cherries along with the remaining cider. The dough will be sticky so flour your hands before shaping the dough into logs about 6 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide. Space them out on the baking sheet and bake until firm, about 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheet frm the oven and reduce the temperature to 275 degrees F.

Allow the biscotti to cool for about 15 minutes, then slice them diagonally into ¾ inch slices and lay the slices on the baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Flip the biscotti and continue baking for an additional until they are golden.