It’s blueberry season! They are abundant and delicious and to top it all off, they are a superfruit, full of antioxidants and nutrients. I found an awesome deal on blueberries today…80 cents a pound. I came home with 6 pounds of blueberries. I’m going on a blueberry kick for the next few days. I’m going to be making blueberry preserves, crumb bars, muffins, sauce…I’m doing a happy dance in my head. But first I think I’ll start with the basics….A wonderful lemon blueberry scone. Scones are great with coffee anytime. As a dessert or as a breakfast or brunch item. They also freeze really, really well which means I can have some when I get off this Master Cleanse (I just had a food porn moment).
Lemon Blueberry Scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
1 stick of unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup heavy cream
a little extra cream and some turbinado (raw) sugar for brushing and sprinkling on top
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add lemon zest to the flour mixture and mix together. Using a pastry blender or two forks cut the cold cubed butter into the flour mixture until it’s a coarse mixture. Beat together egg and heavy cream and pour into the flour mixture and fold the mixture together, when it’s fairly well mixed, gently mix in the blueberries taking care not to smash the blueberries. Don’t over work the dough. On a floured surface, press the dough dough gently to form a square about 1 inch thick. Cut into half then into half again so there are four squares. Cut the squares at a diagonal to get the triangle shape. If you want smaller pieces cut the triangles again so you get a total of 16 pieces. Place on a ungreased cookie sheet. Brush the tops of each triangle with some heavy cream and sprinkle with some turbinado sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes at 400°F. Let the scones cool on a cooling rack before serving.
I made some garlic mashed potatoes to go with some meatloaf a couple of days ago. The meatloaf is all gone but I had about 2 cups of garlic mashed potatoes left over. I hate throwing food away so I decided to ‘re-purpose” the potatoes. I have made potato bread before but not usually with garlic mashed potatoes. I decided to fully commit and throw in a few dried herbs and see how the potato bread turned out. I was delighted. The bread was tender, yeasty, and the garlic along with the basil, thyme and dried onion gave it a wonderful flavor. It was great for sandwiches, just toasted with a little fresh butter, tremendous as a grilled cheese sandwich, in a savory bread pudding and I even made some croutons out of a few pieces. I think I have to make this bread again…really soon!
Garlic Herb Potato Bread
1 cup garlic mashed potatoes
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup warm milk
5 cups or a little more bread flour
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
Heat milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm. Stir in sugar and yeast into the milk and let it sit for a little bit until it’s foamy. In a large bowl mix together garlic mashed potatoes, dried onion, herbs, salt, eggs and butter mix well. Add the yeast mixture to the potato mixture and add in 4-5 cups flour until a dough forms. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. Put dough in a greased bowl. Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased. Cover and let rise for about 1-2 hours or until doubled in size. Punch down dough and shape into two loaves. Place loaves into two greased loaf pans and cover let it rise for another 40 minutes or until doubled in size again. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when top is tapped lightly. Remove from pans and let it cool on cooling rack before slicing. This bread freezes really well.
Leftover bananas can sneak up on you. It seems like one day they are firm, yellow and delightful and the next day they are dark brown and overripe. Thankfully bananas are very versatile. They are fantastic for baking, making smoothies and drinks and even in savory dishes. I enjoy making banana bread with my overripe bananas and have posted my favorite version here. This time I wanted to make some muffins that were healthy AND delicious with some chocolate thrown in to make it special. I used mini chocolate chips because 1/2 cup goes a long way and feels like there is a lot more than there is! They turned out moist, flavorful and delicious. This recipe makes one batch of 12 muffins. If you get up early, you can throw the ingredients together stick it in the oven and go for a 22 minute run and come back to incredible warm muffins for breakfast. It’ll improve your performance (guaranteed) when you know such deliciousness is waiting for you!
Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used Atta, or Indian WW flour)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
2 large bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1/4 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup non fat greek yogurt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl mix the flours, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mashed bananas, baking soda, egg, melted butter, milk and yogurt until well incorporated. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended (don’t over mix). Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and using an ice cream scooper fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake the muffins for 30 minutes until golden brown. Transfer the muffins to rack to cool for 15 minutes.
I hate things going to waste. I also hate opening up the fridge and seeing small containers of mismatched leftovers. It’s annoying. A few days ago I made Spinach Artichoke dip for people hanging around the house. It was a huge hit but I had about a cup of it leftover. I also made some quick rise rolls in my cast iron skillet (I’ve loved making these fast rolls) but since the skillet only holds twelve rolls, I have dough left over. I also had ONE piece of grilled chicken left over. It was time to clean out all this stuff and make one dish. I am also a big fan of Danny’s Kitchen, a great blog. A few months ago Danny started a contest called The Great Leftover Challenge. I participated in that first challenge and had a lot of fun. Danny has thrown down the gauntlet again for The Great Leftover Challenge #2. So….since I’m throwing stuff together anyway, I thought I’d enter the challenge. Judging by how quickly the pizza got eaten, I’d say it was a hit.
I did pre-heat my oven to 500 degrees with my pizza stone in it. This made the surface really hot and I think helped the crust develop really nicely. I have other great recipes for pizza crust but this “leftover” dough made a pretty darn good showing!
Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza
Quick Rise Rolls (half recipe)
Any leftover grilled or pre-cooked chicken
1 cup Spinach Artichoke Dip (I’ll post the recipe for this soon)
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 500°F with Pizza Stone in it (or if you’re using a metal pan, heat that as well). Roll out the dough and carefully lay it on the preheated pizza stone. Spread spinach artichoke dip evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the chicken and pepperoni and finish off with cheese on top. Place back in oven and turn heat down to 450°F. Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.
I am the Thrift Store Queen. I love the stuff you can find, from clothes, to shoes, cookware, furniture and the variety of strange and amazing things. Another man’s trash really can be your treasure. Part of the reason for my fascination with Thrift Stores is to show others that you can dress stylishly, find amazing deals and feel no shame in the fact that you’re using previously owned things. I work with newly arrived refugees. Most families when they arrive have very little in terms of material possessions. Not only does an entire apartment have to be furnished but often clothes (especially here in Salt Lake we need clothes for four DISTINCT seasons) are desperately needed. Thrift Stores are a must when buying entire wardrobes for a family all at once and picking up kitchen tools and small furniture items. I like looking at my clients in the eyes and telling them that everything they see me wearing is from the Thrift Store and that we need to begin a new adventure by having a shopping fashion show. Over the years we’ve had a lot of fun. A few weeks ago, while taking a family of four from Burma through the Thrift Store, I came upon two cast iron skillets. They were $4 each. I was almost hyperventilating with joy. I bought both. One for the Burmese family and one for me.
The Burmese family love their new skillet. I love mine as well. I’ve already cooked with it on the grill outside, used it to press down on paneer as a heavy weight and made a pineapple upside down cake in it. It’s time to make rolls. This was my first attempt at making rolls in the cast iron skillet. I loved how evenly they cooked and how long they stayed warm. The roll recipe is QUICK. There is extra yeast added to make it rise in 20 minutes so while you’re getting other things ready for dinner, you can put these rolls together. They were just the right texture, warm, buttery and delicious. The batch makes two dozen rolls, so I ended up with a dozen rolls in the cast iron skillet and pan full of garlic breadsticks. Not a bad deal at all!!
Quick Rise Rolls
1 3/4 cups warm water
3 packets active dry yeast (2 tbsp plus 1 tsp)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup melted butter and a little extra for brushing
2 tsp salt
Kosher salt for sprinkling on top
2 large eggs, beaten
4-6 cups flour (more if needed due to humidity)
Pre-heat oven to 400° F. If using a stand mixer, attach the paddle attachment and in the mixing bowl, mix together water, yeast and honey and let it sit for about 5 minutes until foamy. Mix on low speed and slowly add in the melted butter and eggs. Add in 3 cups of flour and continue to mix on low for a minute or so. Add in salt and flour as needed until a soft dough is formed and it begins to form a ball. Divide dough in half. Portion half of the dough into 12 balls and roll smoothly. Place in a cast iron skillet and cover with a dish cloth or plastic wrap. Shape the remaining dough into rolls or bread sticks (can also be used as a pizza dough) if desired. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. They should double in size during that time. Brush with melted butter and place the skillet in the pan. Bake for 25 minutes until tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with more melted butter and sprinkle each roll with a small amount of kosher salt. Serve warm with butter, jam or any other topping!
I love fresh fruits of any kind. Especially berries. I had never had any type of berries until I moved to the States and lived on a farm with my American family. Every summer I helped to pick raspberries, marionberries and blueberries. I got scratched a lot in the middle of the bushes. The thorny kinds had the best yields. That’s when I learned that freshly picked berries warmed by the sun are a special treat. I ate as many as I picked!! I keep meaning to put in a berry patch in my yard but they never seem to fit into my landscaping plans. So, I’m always on the look out for fresh berries at the grocery store. This week there were entire flats of blueberries available for $4 at this local store I like to go to that sells unusual combination of things. I had to buy them up. I ended up making blueberry compotes, chutneys, breads, pancakes ….and muffins. These muffins were everything a muffin should be and unlike the Seinfeld episode, I ate the whole thing with my coffee and not just the muffin tops!
Very Blueberry Muffins
1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup milk
raw cane sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 375°. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Using an electric mixer cream the butter and the sugar until creamy. Add in the eggs and the vanilla and continue mixing. In a separate bowl smash 1 cup of the blueberries with a fork and add to the batter and mix. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt until blended and with the mixer running at low speed add half the flour mixture to the batter and half of the milk and blend. Add remaining flour and milk. Fold in the remaining blueberries by hand. Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and sprinkle a little of the raw can sugar on top of each muffin. Bake for 22-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire cooling rack before serving.
Chappatis are a traditional Indian flat bread made out of whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour is known as “Atta”. Atta is different than whole wheat flour commonly found in U.S. groceries. The protein content is higher and the grind of the flour is finer in “Atta”. This makes the chapatis softer, pliable and delicious tasting. If you get a chance to make chapatis with Atta from the Indian store, you have to try it. Regular whole wheat flour also works, I usually use whole wheat pastry flour to compensate. There’s nothing like fresh hot chappatis with a tiny bit of ghee added to it for flavor. You really don’t even need anything else!
It’s (almost) summer time and that means lots of cooking on the grill. I really enjoy using the grill to cook during the warmer weather because it keeps the house cooler and I love how everything tastes when they are grilled. I decided to make pizzas on the grill. It’s one of my fast go-to grill dishes because everything can be cooked outside without any prep in the “house” kitchen. All you need is a grill basket for vegetables so smaller pieces don’t fall through and you’re good to go.
I have been using the no-knead artisan bread for my pizza crusts because they turn out beautifully and this bread dough is a dream. You mix the thing up with a wooden spoon and stick it in your fridge, it’s sooooo easy! I usually have some in my fridge ready to go (each batch can keep in the fridge for almost 2 weeks). The toppings for these pizzas are as varied as the person making them. I hope you try some out and go crazy with the toppings. When my basil is full-grown, I plan to make home made mozzarella and have Margherita pizzas on the grill. What’s not to love?
Assorted vegetables: red onion, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplants etc.
If using chicken breasts, cut into strips and marinate in a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar,salt, garlic and thyme and throw it on the grill to cook.
Cut vegetables into strips and the cherry tomatoes into halves. Toss with salt, fresh cracked pepper, basil and olive oil and place in grill pan on the grill and let it cook.
Take a small portion of the dough and roll it out fairly thin (about 1/4 inch thick) and pat it lightly with olive oil on both sides. I like to make it personal size – so about 6-8 inches “circles” or whatever shape they turn out to be. When vegetables are cooked, place pizza directly on the grill and close the lid for 3 minutes (grill should be on high heat, 600 degrees or so). Flip the dough over so the cooked side is on top and place some of the grilled cherry tomatoes on the dough along with other veggies and chicken (if using). Sprinkle a little cheese (go easy) less is better. Close the lid and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Pizza should be done with the cheese melted and the crust wonderfully crunchy and smoky.
There’s nothing like fresh hot naan. I love all kinds of naan. Peshwari Naan, Garlic Naan, Plain Naan, or in this case a stuffed Naan. You might be thinking to yourself (or not) why stuff potatoes inside a bread? Well, why not? Actually since this serves as the main carb for a meal, it’s perfect. It’s great served with daal, channa dishes or one of my go to dishes Sabzi Paneer Masala. Since I don’t own a Tandoor oven, the best way I know how to mimic one is by using a pizza stone. A Tandoor oven heats up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The highest my gas oven will go is 550 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to compensate for this temperature difference I usually place the pizza stone in a rack closest to the upper element. I usually preheat the oven to the highest it will go (500 for electric or 550 for gas) with the pizza stone in it. Then right before baking the naans, I turn the oven to the broil function. This helps even out the heat from the top and the bottom and usually the naans turn out fantastic. Try this one. You’ll be the talk of the town.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 6 Naans
Plain Naan dough:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 tbsp plain yogurt (I like Greek)
3/4 cup warm water
Aloo Filling (potato filling):
2 medium russet potatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (Jeera)
1/2 tsp dry mango powder (Amchur)
1 Serrano chili, partially seeded and chopped
2 tbsp chopped Cilantro (coriander leaves or Dhania)
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp oil (to coat hands, for the dough etc)
2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) – to brush the naans with
1/8 – 1/4 cup flour to dust rolling surface
Making the Naan:
I make the dough for this naan in the morning before going to work, it only takes a couple of minutes and it’s perfect for when I get home. The dough works really well 6-8 hours later. Needs at least a minimum of 4 hours, so plan accordingly.
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and let it proof for a few minutes until it bubbles up. In a larger bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking soda. Make a well in the center of the flour and add in the yogurt and oil. Mix together until you get a coarse crumbly texture. Slowly add in the proofed yeast mixture and knead the dough. Don’t worry if the dough is slightly sticky. Put a few drops of oil on the dough and smooth it all over the dough ball. Cover the bowl with the dough in it with some plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 4 hours. I prefer about 6-8. It doesn’t really over-rise so even if it is longer than 8 hours, it’s okay.
Wash the two potatoes and pierce the skin with a fork a few times. Microwave about 4-5 minutes (depending on microwave) until potatoes are tender. Don’t skin and boil these potatoes since we’re trying to reduce moisture content. Once cooked and slightly cooled, peel the potatoes and smash them with a fork or a potato masher. Add all the spices to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Divide and roll into six equal balls.
Putting it all together:
Preheat the oven to 500 or 550 (as high as it will go) with the pizza stone in it. Pre-heat for about 20 minutes because you want the stone nice and hot.
Coat hands with a little vegetable oil and knead the naan dough a few times and divide the dough into six equal parts. Sprinkle a little flour on the rolling surface and roll out dough into 3″ circles. Place a potato ball in the middle and wrap dough around it like a little dumpling. Make sure to pull the edges together well. Make all six balls the same way and let it rest for about 5 minutes (this rest period helps a lot when rolling it out). In the meantime, turn the oven on to broil and make sure the rack with the stone is closest to the top element (be sure to wear oven mitts or you’ll get a nasty burn like me).
Roll out naans into an oval shape. Before placing them on the stone, coat the palms of your hands with a little oil and flip each naan back and forth to lightly coat each side. Place 3 naans on the stone (or however many will fit on your stone). Cook for about 2 minutes, maybe 3 depending on your oven. It should get a nice golden brown color on top and will puff up. Take out the naan and brush with ghee (clarified butter) or regular butter.
Make sure to wait 2-3 minutes between baking batches of naan to give your oven time to get back to the maximum temperature. Serve Naan with Sabzi Paneer Masala.
I had forgotten that there were people coming over. That happens to us a lot. People come over and want to eat stuff and hang around. One time I invited 15 people for Thanksgiving dinner and 55 people showed up. How does that happen, you wonder? It’s because I am an asylee in this country and I work with refugees a lot. The rules of etiquette are slightly different for people from other parts of the world. If they feel comfortable with you, they will bring a bunch of extra friends without letting you know about it. I have learned to always have some kind of food handy and to OVER cook for every event at my house. Who knows how many will show up? So I thought I could throw together some “quick” bread, like banana bread, but they ate all the bananas as they were talking and hanging around…I decided to go to plan B. Plan B would be making bread out of stuff people usually don’t snack on, like poppy seeds (unless they want to test positive for opiates on a drug test at work the next day). This is a “dump” bread. You dump in all the ingredients and then stick it in the oven for about 50 minutes and you have a couple of loaves of delicious bread. While the bread is cooking though you gotta keep everyone distracted enough not to eat everything else that is not nailed down, like jars of Kumquat Marmalade cooling on the counter….
BTW, I made up this recipe about 16 years ago so I’d remember the numbers. You’ll see what I mean:
Here’s the recipe:
Almond poppy-seed Bread
3 Cups flour
1 cup oil
2 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp butter flavoring
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Dump everything, except the poppy seeds, into a large mixing bowl and mix at medium speed until well blended and smooth. It’s a slightly watery batter. Hand stir in the poppy seeds. Pour into two greased or sprayed loaf pans or 6 mini loaf pans. Bake for 50 minutes if using two loaf pans or for 40-45 minutes if using the mini loaf pans. (in the interest of time, I used mini loaf pans) Enjoy!