COOKIES

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TWO GREAT COOKIE RECIPES FROM BON APPETIT!

 

 

CHEWY GINGER COOKIES 

Chewy Ginger Cookies recipe

 

If you love ginger, then I guarantee, you’ll love these cookies.  They are made with three kinds of ginger:  fresh grated, dry powdered and candied ginger.  This cookie packs a punch and you can have it thin and crispy or thick and a little more cakey.  It depends on whether you use the batter right away when it’s really soft or chill it for a while so that it’s much easier to handle.  Chilling it results in a puffier cookie that holds its shape better. 

 

I didn’t have the robust blackstrap molasses and used the regular, less strong original molasses with fine results. For the recipe, just click on the CHEWY GINGER COOKIES TITLE.

 

THE NOVEMBER ISSUE OF BON APPETIT ALSO HAD A GREAT COOKIE RECIPE:

 

PEANUT BUTTER PECAN OATMEAL COOKIES 

 

 

 

 

I followed this recipe exactly except for a change that simplified the preparation.  The first step instructs one to puree the peanut butter and pecans in a blender and then add to the rest of the ingredients.  I just added the peanut butter straight to the mixer and saved the clean up of the food processor.  I chopped the pecans ahead of time in a "chop-chop" which works great for this.  It's one of these gadgets where you pull a string that rotates a blade in a small container.  It works well for small quantities of onion, or fresh herbs or nuts.  I also used it to chop the crystalized ginger in the previous recipe.  

FOR THE RECIPE, JUST CLICK ON THE RECIPE TITLE

 

 

 

 

 

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BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

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BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

 I found an amazing blueberry muffin recipe online from allrecipes which needed only a few minor adjustments.  I added lemon peel and vanilla and replaced milk with buttermilk .  I also made 9 muffins with this batch.

 

This recipe also works great for cake.  I make it in a 9 inch square cake pan.

 

Blueberry Muffins, ADAPTED from Allrecipes.com

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/3 cup buttermilk

Grated rind from one organic lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

1.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

2.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough butter milk to fill the cup and add the lemon and vanilla. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Divide filling between 9 muffin cups, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

3.

To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

4.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

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APPLES!

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'Tis apple season and we are lucky enough to have such a great selection in Ithaca.  Over the past few weeks we've had so much fun with apples.  We've had two cider pressing parties.  We started having these parties when the kids were young and we'd invite families of their friends.

 I'd make 4 or 5 different soups and serve them with bread and everyone would bring an appetizer or dessert.  This year was a scaled down version since the kids are grown up and I can't get them all home at the same time.  Here is my son Jeffrey with his friend Seth enjoying themselves.

We usually rent a press from the Cayuga Nature Center.  We go to King Town Orchards to buy bulk second hand apples.  Everyone takes a hand at cranking the apples and everyone leaves with a half gallon of freshly pressed cider.  We get a variety of apples and sometimes throw in some pears and this is guaranteed to be the best cider around.

 

 

 

 

 

Other great things to do with apples:  Dried apples.  I invested in a $20 apple corer, peeler and slicer and we already had a dehydrator.  Making a batch of apples using the Back To Basics apple corer/slicer  takes only a few minutes, once you get the hang of it.  It's an amazingly simple and efficient design and it works.

 Don't add anything to the apples.  They get incredibly sweet once they're dry and it takes about 12 hours.  If you don't want to waste the scraps (peels and ends of the apples) you can make applesauce with them.  I just throw everything (minus the cores) into my crock pot and let them cook down.  After putting them through a food mill I taste for seasoning and may add sugar,honey or cinnamon.  

This last batch of applesauce I used to make my spiced applesauce muffins.

 

 APPLES READY FOR DRYING IN THE DEHYDRATOR

 

 

 

 

 APPLE GARLIC CHUTNEY

 

 

Yesterday I made the apple garlic chutney recipe I posted a while back and we started eating it right away even though it's better after a couple of weeks.  I used dried mango, golden raisins, dried apricots and apples. 

 

 

The following recipe was passed out a few years ago by Jackie Sherwin of Black Diamond Farm.  I adapted the original recipe which was from the cookbook: An Apple Harvest-Recipes and Orchard Lore, by Frank Browning and Sharon Silva
 
 
 

 

APPLE GARLIC CHUTNEY RECIPE

 

 
4-5 tart apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup dried apricots chopped
1 cup golden raisins
6-7 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
2 tsp. grated and peeled fresh ginger
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cider or red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
 
In a non-reactive pot (not aluminum or iron) combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, stirring often.  Add more vinegar if necessary to prevent burning.  Cook for about 30 minutes until the apples are softened and the mixture is thickened.  Taste and add more salt, sugar or vinegar if necessary. To give it a nice kick I add a teaspoon of grated ginger and a clove of pressed garlic after I turn off the heat and stir it in.
 
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Spoon into sterile jars and cover tightly.  Refrigerate for several days and up to two weeks to allow flavors to mellow.  This chutney can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 months.
 
 

 

 

SPICED APPLESAUCE MUFFINS
 
Makes 16-18 muffins
 
 
  • 1 ¼ cups applesauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½  cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½  teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½  teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½  teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup raisins or chopped dried apricots
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2.  Prepare muffin pans (16-18 muffins) with cupcake foils
  3. In a large bowl, Beat eggs first and then  add the applesauce, sugar, oil, and milk; beat well.
  4.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and mix in cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and salt. Add to the applesauce mixture but don't overstir.
  5. Add vanilla and fold in the pecans and raisins.
  6. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.
 
 

 

 

 

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CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY OATMEAL BARS

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Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

 

What a great combination:  raspberries and chocolate.  This is an easy recipe combining two great recipes:  a chocolate oatmeal bar and a raspberry oatmeal bar recipe.  My guests found it a little reminiscent of sacher torte but much easier to make. 

 

Ingredients:

Bottom layer:

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup softened butter (1 stick)

1 large egg

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract or coconut extract

¾ cup instant oatmeal

½ cup chocolate chips

 

1/2 cup raspberry jam

 

Topping:

 

½ cup brown sugar

1/4-1/2  cup softened butter (1/2-1 stick)

¾ cup flour

¾ cup instant oatmeal

 

1.      Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2.      In a food processor cream together sugar and butter and beat  in egg. 

3.      Add flour and baking powder and pulse until blended.  Do not over mix.

4.      Add the extract and oatmeal and pulse a few times until mixed but do not over mix.

5.      Stir in chocolate chips.

6.      Press into a 9 X 9 inch nonstick pan that has been spread with oil or butter.

7.      Spread the jam evenly over the dough.

TOPPING:

8.      In the food processor cream together the butter  and sugar and add the flour pulsing a few times until incorporated. Do not overmix. 

9.      Add the oatmeal and mix quickly.

10.  Crumble the topping evenly over the raspberry and press down.

11.  Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until beginning to brown.

12.  Let cool completely.  These are even better the next day.  Cut them into small squares or rectangles.  These are very rich cookies.

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FRESH SEASONAL FRUIT

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SEASONAL FRUIT PLATTER

 

 

 

 

Inspired by Alice Water's (CHEZ PANISSE) interview on Fresh Air last week, I decided to select the most beautiful and sweetest local fruit I could find and offer it to my dinner guests just like this.

 The peaches were from the Ithaca Farmer's Market, the plums were from Black Diamond Farm which has a booth at the IFM, and the little yellow plums in the back, under the grapes were from Indian Creek Orchards.  The green grapes, bursts of total flavor and sweetness and the Chestnut Crab apples were also from Black Diamond Farm. The raspberries were from our garden picked a few hours beforehand at their peak of ripeness.  I couldn't resist adding the perfectly ripe figs even though they were interlopers to the local platter.

Served as is with homemade plum ice-cream and this was a feast for the eyes and the taste buds.  The next day I made a peach/raspberry pie with the leftover very ripe fruit.  But it really is a shame to cook fruit when it is so fresh and perfect as were these fruits.


 

Thanks to my friend Doug Hexler who hosted the party and took this beautiful picture.

 

 

 

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LEMON BLUEBERRY UPSIDE CAKE

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 This is a terrific way to serve blueberries.  I tried this recipe back in April of 2006 when I t was first published.  I marked it “fantastic” and have made it several times since then with great success.  I have adapted this recipe from the original in several ways.  It’s  hard to this mess up.  I would also make this recipe using frozen blueberries.

 

It’s not elegant looking but wait until you taste it.  The lemon, almond paste and blueberries are a match made in heaven.

 

 

Lemon  Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

Adapted from Bon Appétit  | April 2006

Blueberry topping

·         1/3- 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

·         1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

·         1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries


Lemon-almond butter cake

·         3/4 cup cake flour

·         1/2 teaspoon baking powder

·         4 ounces almond paste (scant 1/2 cup), broken into small pieces .  Make sure this is (SOLO) almond PASTE.

·         1/2 cup sugar

·         3 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel

·         1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

·         3 large eggs, room temperature

·         1 tsp. vanilla

 

·         http://www.epicurious.com/rd_images/primaryContent/recipe_detail/rd_buckets_divider.gif

preparation

For blueberry topping:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in microwave and put in 9-inch-square cake pan with 2-inch-high sides (preferably nonstick) and add brown sugar. Place cake pan over low heat and stir constantly until butter and sugar melt and mixture is smooth and bubbling. Using pot holders, remove pan from heat; cool 15 minutes. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over.

For lemon-almond butter cake:
Sift flour and  baking powder into medium bowl. Combine almond paste, sugar, and lemon peel in bowl of food processor. Mix until almond paste is broken into very small pieces, about 1 minute. Add melted mixing until mixture is smooth and scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well and scraping sides of bowl after each addition then add vanilla. Add flour mixture and pulse a few times just until batter is smooth. Spoon batter in dollops over blueberries in pan; spread evenly with offset spatula to smooth.

Bake cake until deep golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 1 minute. Run small knife around cake to loosen. Place large platter atop pan. Using oven mitts or potholders and using both hands, hold platter and cake pan firmly together and invert; shake gently, allowing cake to settle on platter. Cool at least 20 minutes.

Garnish cake with lemon slices and lemon peel curls, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature with additional blueberries and whipped cream or ice-cream.

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GOAT CHEESE PANNA COTTA WITH RHUBARB SOUP

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We have a great crop of rhubarb and I started thinking of the perfect dessert using rhubarb. Strawberry Rhubarb pie is the default dessert, of course.  But I wanted to try something different.

This panna cotta is my invention since I found nothing close to what I had in mind.  The creaminess and slightly sweet and tangy flavor of the panna cotta works perfectly with the sourness of the rhubarb.  Play around with the amount of sugar and spices you want with the rhubarb.

 I used Goya Guava juice because we always have it around.  It’s great for smoothies!  But you can try this with another juice as well.  Or just use more wine..  Keep an eye on the rhubarb so it isn’t overcooked.  It should keep some of it’s texture.

 

This is an elegant and refreshing summer dessert.  It has met with rave reviews every time I’ve served it.

 

 

 

 

 

GOAT CHEESE PANNA COTTA WITH RHUBARB SOUP

 

 

 

Rhubarb soup

 

1 pound rhubarb cut into ½  inch pieces

½ cup sugar

1 cup white wine

1 2 inch cinnamon stick

1 cup guava juice

1 star anise (optional)

Strawberries washed and cut into small dice for garnish

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

 

In a pot, combine rhubarb and sugar.  Bake, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes or until softened but still holding its shape.  

 

Meanwhile, boil wine, juice, cinnamon stick and star anise for 5 minutes and then let it sit.  Pour over the baked rhubarb and chill in refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

PANNA COTTA

 

 

1 cup heavy cream (or if you want to cut down on the cream, use 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1  1/2 cups of buttermilk.)

1 cup buttermilk cup 

1/3 sugar

8 ounces  creamy goat cheese such as Chevrie

1 packet gelatin

1 vanilla bean or 1  tsp. vanilla extract

 

1.       Bring heavy cream, ½ cup buttermilk and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Split bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the simmering cream mixture.

2.      Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over two tablespoons water in a medium sized bowl and leave for 10 minutes.

3.      When the cream has just started to simmer add to the gelatin and mix until the gelatin has dissolved. 

4.      Add remaining buttermilk and goat cheese and mix until creamy.

5.      Divide the panna cotta into 6-6 ounce custard cups and chill for several hours or overnight until set.

 

 

TO ASSEMBLE:

 

 

When ready to serve discard the cinnamon and star anise and divide the soup into 6 bowls.   Run a thin knife around the edge of the ramekins and release them gently unto the soup. 

 

Garnish with the diced strawberry.

 

The black specks in the panna cotta are from the vanilla bean.

 

 

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TAPAS PARTY

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 TAPAS

 

Tapas is a great culinary tradition of Spain.  I love serving tapas at parties because it gives me a chance to cook lots of things that wouldn’t ordinarily go together in a traditional meal.  The way it works in Spain is that most bars serve a variety of little plates of food to accompany your beer or glass of wine or sherry.   Some of the typical tapas are tortillas (a potato and onion much like a frittata), garlic shrimp, a few slices of Spanish serrano ham, fried potatoes or potato salad with tuna fish…and the possibilities are endless. Seville is the capital of the Tapas bar and since I just came back from Seville I was quite excited to try some of the interesting tapas I tasted there.

 

The idea for a tapas party is that you have some dishes prepared ahead of time and some, like the shrimp cooked last minute.  You serve a few good wines and sherries to accompany the little platters of the tasty treats that come forth from your kitchen.

 

Here are some of the wonderful tapas I’ve served at my recent dinner parties:

 

 


Spanish tortillas:  Start with a nonstick 12 inch skillet heated up and coated with olive oil. Fry coarsely chopped sweet onions until soft and beginning to brown, remove to a large bowl.  Peel and cube 3-4 medium potatoes into ¼- 1/2    inch dice and fry them in olive oil until beginning to brown and almost cooked through.  Add to the onions.  Beat 5-6 eggs until well combined and add to the potato and onion mixture stirring well to distribute the onions and potato.  Salt to your taste.  Coat the skillet again with olive oil and add the egg mixture.  When the mixture has browned on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side. Carefully take the frying pan to a sink. Place a large dinner plate (12”) upside down over the frying pan. With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and the omelet will “fall” onto the plate. Place the frying pan back on the range and put just enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan – approximately 1.5 tsp. Let the pan warm for 30 seconds or so. Now slide the omelet (which is probably still a bit runny), into the frying pan, using a spatula to catch any egg mixture that runs out. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet. Let the omelet cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tortilla is set and beginning to brown. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2 minutes.


Carefully slide the omelet onto a plate! To serve as a main course, slice it into 6-8 pieces like a pie. Serve sliced French bread on the side.


 


 


 


Chickpeas and spinach: Fry a small chopped onion d in a skillet or pot that has been coated with olive oil. When the onions are beginning to brown,  Add a 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and   1 teaspoon of Spanish smoked paprika. Fry together for 1-2 minutes and  then add ½ cup of chicken or vegetable broth. Meanwhile cook a pound of spinach and drain off the water.  When the chicken broth has been reduced by about half, add the spinach and salt to your taste and cook together for 5-10 minutes.  You can serve right away or refrigerate and heat up the next day. Before serving add a dash of good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.  Chickpeas are a very commonly served tapa in Spain

 


Shrimp with garlic and sherry:  Start with a pot or frying pan and add olive oil covering the bottom with about an inch.  Slice 3-4 peeled garlic into thin slices.  Add them to the pot of olive oil and heat.  Watch the garlic closely and wait  till it is fragrant but not brown.  Add 1 pound of peeled shrimp and let them cook together adjusting the temperature so that the garlic does not brown. Add salt to taste.  When the shrimp are just pink, add ¼ cup sherry ( I use Amontillado)  and boil together.  If you want an extra garlic kick (and I always do)  chop up or use a garlic press and add another couple cloves of garlic at the last minute.  Serve this right away, bubbling hot with some good bread to sop of every drop of the wonderful sauce.  Once you’ve tried this, you may not want to have shrimp cooked any other way.

 

 


Scallop, shrimp and asparagus terrine:  Starting with Julia Child’s fish terrine, I came up with this simpler and  show stopping version.  If you love scallops this is one of the greatest way to enjoy essence of scallop, but you need to use the best scallops you can find.


Start by heating up your oven to 350 degrees ?. Place a large oven proof dish in the oven which is big enough to hold your terrine and ½ filled with hot water. I used a lasagna pan.


Take a pound of scallops (minus 2 large scallops that you’ve set aside) and an egg and puree them together in a food processor for several minutes until very smooth.  Meanwhile chop up the scallops and 5 large shrimp into a coarse 1/4 inch dice.  Blanch ½ pound of asparagus and slice them in half if they are thick. 


Back to the food processor:  add ½ cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup 1/2 and 1/2 and  a small pinch of saffron that you’ve soaked in ¼ cup of hot cognac.  Blend this together for a couple of minutes and then add 1/3 cup of bread crumbs, and blend until the mixture is very smooth.  Stir in the scallop and shrimp pieces..  Add salt to your liking.  Use a 6 cup terrine (or loaf plan) that has been lined on the bottom with buttered parchment cut to fit.  Pour in half the scallop mousse and thump the pan a little to distribute evenly.  Then distribute the asparagus over the top, salt the asparagus and add the second batch of mousse.  Cover with another piece of parchment and either the top of the terrine or another piece of aluminum foil placed over the top.  Put your terrine carefully into the pan with water that has been heating in the oven.  Cook for 60 minutes and check for doneness.  The internal temperature should be 160 degrees?. This terrine can be served hot or cold.  It is very rich so keep the tapas servings to one slice per person.


 


Polenta with morels:  Yesterday we found some beautiful morels and I came up with this recipe to showcase them. 


Mushroom mixture: Start with finely chopped onions that have been gently browned in a combination of butter and olive oil.  Set aside when soft and beginning to brown.  Set the onions aside. Fry the morels (that have been sliced in half or if larger, sliced in quarters and cleaned).  If you need more mushrooms, add some regular baby belas or any combination of wild or domestic sliced mushrooms, enough to feed your guests or family.  Cook the morels separately and set aside with the onions. The morels need to be cooked medium high so they get a little crispy.  Fry the rest of the mushrooms until cooked and then bring back the morels and onions to the frying pan.  Cook and mix together, taste for saltiness and add ¼ cup of Marsala wine and ¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth and cook together for 4-5 minutes until most of the liquid is gone.  Set aside and make the polenta.


Creamy polenta; Put one cup water and one cup corn meal in a saucepan and stir until mixed.  Then add two cups of hot chicken or vegetable stock and cook over medium heat until it thickens into a creamy texture (like a thin mashed potato). You need to be stirring pretty constantly so it doesn’t develop lumps. Add ¼ cup of parmesan or Romano cheese or a mix of the two and another1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese and stir until melted and incorporated into the polenta.  Add salt to taste.


To serve, use a small plate and mound about a 1/3 cup of polenta covered by a big spoonful of mushrooms.  Sprinkle with parsley for garnish if desired.


 


To round out your tapas meal you can serve nice crusty bread, lots of good olive oil for bread dipping or to drizzle over your tapas,  along with olives and salad.


 


 


 

 

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EVIE’s BEER CARAWAY AND ONION BREAD

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EVIE’S BEER CARAWAY AND RAISIN BREAD:  Makes two loaves

 

This recipe is for experienced bread makers.  You need to know how to gauge the texture of bread and how long to knead.  I like my dough to be a little on the wet side because it makes a moist bread.  But then it tends to be harder to work with.  I also like to spritz the hot oven with water to give the bread a nice crunchy crust.

  For this recipe you need to play around with the wet and dry ingredients to get the right consistency.  If you   use the liquid from the soaked raisins,  you will need to add a little more flour.  I also like to add walnuts.  This is very complex tasting bread which lasts a few days.  It always gets rave reviews.  I also make the dough in a bread maker and then remove the dough before the final rise and shape it into loaves. 

 

1.      Mix the above ingredients until bubbly:

 

1 package fresh yeast

¾ cup warm water

¼ cup orange juice

1/3 cup sulphured  molasses

¾ cup dark beer (such as Ubu Ale)

 

2.      Meanwhile soak 2 cup raisins in 1/8 cup warm coffee and 1/8 cup cider vinegar

3.      Sauté:  ½ cup chopped onions in butter or olive oil until soft

 

4.      Add the following dry ingredients to yeast mixture:

 

4 teaspoons wheat gluten

2 cups white all purpose or bread flour

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 Tbs. oat bran

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground caraway seed

 

5.      Knead  in mixer with dough hook for  5 minutes (or by hand)

6.      Add onions and raisins

7.      Continue to mix in mixer or knead by hand adding more flour if necessary.

8.      Cover with olive oil and rise in warm place, covered until doubled (at least an hour)

9.      Punch down and form into two long loaves or put in two bread pans

10.  Rise for another 45 minutes

11.  Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 25-30  minutes

 

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CHEESES OF THE FINGER LAKES

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 FINGER LAKES CHEESE

 

 

With our abundance of sheep, goat and cow dairy farms, talented entrepreneurs have created some wonderful and unique cheeses.  Some of the cheese producers of the Finger Lakes have come together to form an alliance known as Finger lakes Cheese trail.  They offer special events and promote themselves in order to put out the word that great cheeses are made right here in the Finger Lakes.

 

A great way to visit a couple of cheese farms and  wineries on Cayuga Lake is to take an excursion with EXPERIENCE! THE FINGERLAKES.  Their newest tour is called, “WINE, CHEESE AND “MOO”, A FARM to BARREL EXPERIENCE”.  Laura Falk, the co-owner and our guide provided the intimate group of 8 of us with an informative, fun and delicious afternoon. 

 

 

 

                                                              Keeley’s aging racks

 

At the first stop we met Keeley McGarr owner of Keeley’s Cheese Company.  Keeley decided to branch off from  the family dairy business in King Ferry by pursuing a career in cheese making.  As part of her training she travelled to Ireland to learn the technique of washed-rind cheese production.  The basement of the family farmhouse was converted to into her cheese production plant and she was off and running.   I was first introduced to Keeley’s cheeses this past summer and was immediately impressed with her Pondhopper Cheese.  This is an aged cheese with considerable depth and character and a great snacking cheese. 

 

Keeley provided an excellent overview of cheese making and allowed us to tour her facilities before we headed up to the living area of the farmhouse for some cheese tasting.  

Later, at the wineries, we were able to pair the wines with the cheeses, and discover how nicely, with proper pairing,cheese can enhance the wine and vice versa.  Laura had done her homework and the pairings worked very well. 

 

We also visited Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery which produces farmstead kefir cheese cultured with living kefir grains and handcrafted with raw milk from their grass fed Irish Dexter cows.  Rose Marie Belforti, the owner allowed us to meet and schmooze with her special Dexter cows which provided some wonderful photo opportunities.

From Rose Marie, we learned that Dexter Creamery is the first and only producer in the western hemisphere to offer an authentic, probiotic kefir cheese.  Kefir grains are friendly symbiotic micro-organisms that culture and flavor the cheese. Somewhat like a “sourdough starter” the kefir culture has been handed down for generations and was thought to have originated centuries ago in the Caucasus Mountains .

Because they contain this special probiotic bacteria, kefir is considered to be very beneficial to the digestive system.  For more information about Kefir, visit: Dom’s website

I particularly liked their blue variety which was strong enough to pack a real spicy kick: this is not a cheese for the faint of heart.

 

Terry Kristensen, fellow tour guest, with Dexter calf

 

The two wineries we visited on our tour were LONG POINT WINERY and KING FERRY WINERY which produces TRELEAVEN WINES.   

Included in Long Point’s offerings are Zinfandel wines which aren’t typically produced in this area. Gary Barletta, the winemaker and owner, has a passion for Zinfandel, but must transport his grapes from California, since Zinfandel grapes don’t grow in the Finger Lakes. His AmaZin’ 2007 is a Port style Zinfandel:  a rich and wonderful wine that I highly recommend. It pairs beautifully with blue cheese.  Gary also offered us a barrel tasking of his Cabernet Sauvignon which allowed us to compare the wine at various stages of its aging process.  If you are interested in trying some of Gary’s wines, Long Point Winery is collaborating with the Clarence Hotel in Seneca Falls to offer a wine pairing dinner on Saturday, the 12th of February.  

 

Treleaven has long produced one of our favorite dry Rieslings as well as one of our  favorite local un-oaked  Chardonnay called Silver Lining. The semi-dry Riesling is also excellent and one of the best values in the region.

The Falks offer other wine and food pairing tours and I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy several, all of which are  fun and a great way to learn about the wine industry of the Finger Lakes.

Following are some of the other cheeses in the area that I can recommend.

 

The two area goat cheese farms are Lively Run and Side Acres Dairy Goat Farm. They both  offer a variety of goat cheeses and all are mild and delicious.  I usually have a log of the plain in my fridge to use whenever I need to fix up a salad, or add a special topping to a pizza, or make a special appetizer with sundried tomato or pesto with goat cheese.  They both offer logs covered in a spice blend such as dill or pepper/garlic or herbs de Provence.  Lively Run also makes a wonderful blue goat cheese.  Both have feta varieties and Side Acres also makes a goat cheese fudge which is creamy and delicious.  I’ve had a great time bringing groups of students to tour these farms, pet the goats, learn about cheese making and sample their many varieties.

Both Lively Run and Side Acre goat cheeses can be found at GreenStar Natural Food Market in Ithaca, and Lively Run cheeses can be found also at Wegmans.

 

 

NORTHLAND SHEEP DAIRY CHEESE AT THE FARMERS MARKET

 

Northland Sheep Dairy Farm sells lamb meat, sheep fur products and cheese at the Ithaca Farmers Market.  My favorite of their many excellent cheeses is their blue cheese:  Bergère Bleue which has been aged 4-12 months.  This slightly crumbly blue Roquefort style blue cheese rivals many of the best European varieties.  All of their cheeses are made from raw ewes milk which has been aged a minimum of 4 months.  Folie Bergère is a firm, nutty washed curd sheep cheese with a natural rind which has been aged 12-15 months and Tomme Bergèr is a rustic, Alpine-style sharp cheese with a natural rind which has been aged 4-12 months. I strongly recommend a visit to their booth at the Farmers Market, or you can visit their farm by appointment.  Their herd is 100% grass fed and they use sustainable farming practices They use draft horses and mules for the majority of their work to cut down on fossil fuels.

 

Another area cheese producer that I have come to appreciate is Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese located two miles West of Mecklenburg towards Watkins Glen. They produce several varieties of raw milk cheese.  My favorite is the Bier Meck, a Gouda like cheese.  The cheese is soaked in a brine made from Ithaca Beer Company’s Smoked Porter Ale. 

 

There’s an upcoming event planned for the Cayuga Wine Trail called, “Say Cheese” :

 March 26 & 27 10:00 am -5pm
"Say Cheese" along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail
Savor the spectacular tastes of artisan cheese and fine wines along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. Receive a special gift token at your first starting point winery and travel along the way for an experience of creamy milky sensations paired specifically with the wines from our wineries. 

www.cayugawinetrail.com

Advance tickets: $ 15.00 per person. 
Tickets at the door: $ 20.00 per person. 
Designated Driver: $ 10.00 per person. 

 

 

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