GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!

GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!

I think I'm really made for winter. I spent all of my long weekend in pajamas, with the bed pulled out of our sofa bed, a tray of drinks and books propped up, and the dogs by my side. It was heaven. The way the light scattered in to wake up. I could hear the crunch of deer on the snow and ice and photographed them from my window. I drank a lot of tea and ate a lot of junk food and it was exactly what I needed.  A good way to remember that the holidays aren't a season, but all of Winter is.

After the long weekend of eating soups, chips, burritos, and eggs (lots of eggs--the chickens are still producing at 85%!), I wanted something light. Something filling. Aromatic but soft, no sharpness to ruin the pleasant dullness of relaxation. Lazily, gratefully, I knew what I wanted to make - mussels. I know it's not the most relaxing food in the world, but it is probably one of the least fussy and most delicious dishes I can think of. And it was heaven to pinch the meat out between a used shell and to press the warmed, iridescent shell to my lips. To have the broth of wine and garlic slide down the corners of my lips. To toss the used bivalve into the awaiting mouth of the white bowl and to soak the baguette in the small dredges left in the bowl. It was, and will always be, my favorite meal.

Le Creuset wrote a cookbook and it's where the recipe is from below. I feel grateful to have this book, as I am always looking for the path of least resistance when it comes to French food, and this book has it all. Beautiful photographs, easy instructions, no fuss or worry. My absolute favorite way to cook. And with one pot to clean, it made my relaxing weekend all the more stress-free.

I'm excited to also share this book with a lucky winner who participated in my Instagram giveaway. Congratulations to Brandice!

Steamed Mussels

GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!

Serves 2 or 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded

Directions (as shared in Le Creuset's Cookbook):

1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Stir in the shallots and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine, cream, butter, tarragon, and season with s salt.

2. Add the mussels, cover, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir the mussels, cover and continue cooking until they open, 4 to 6 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open. Sprinkle with parsely and serve at once with the broth and some crusty bread.

Pictured here: Braiser / Bowls

GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!
GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!
GIVEAWAY WINNER - LeCreuset's Cookbook - and Mussels!

Malted Milk Ball Cookies! (Because I had a lot of Whoppers my Christmas Stocking to Use)

Malted Milk Ball and Tahini Cookies

For the couple years that I have had a blog, I have had to move in January. First to Texas, then to Pennsylvania, then to our current house. Every January. It marked something, it's given me anxiety that I haven't had to leave in 2018 yet. That this, finally, is my real home. My roots are small but they are growing. But I'm still taking January slow out of habit.

Our Christmas tree is still up and I'm okay with that. The small jingle of the baubles has become comforting to me as we stampede downstairs in the morning - me for my coffee and the dogs for their morning fried egg. It will come down next week, but I'll miss it around here. It, too, has become a familiar face, a friend, a reminder that time moves on and snow melts and it'll be Spring soon and then Summer and I'll hardly remember the gentle comforts of keeping a conifer in my home.

There are vestigials of the holidays all around the house - a bit of ribbon I haven't tucked into a shoebox, the holly wrapped around the taper candles in the dining room. But one so small, so inconspicuous hides above the pantry cabinet in a bag: a mix of Hershey's party-sized candy. I've eaten the Kit-Kats and the Reese's were gone within a day. Picked through, all that remains are the Whoppers that neither of us care too much for.

Nutty, sweet, and a little bitter at the end, I couldn't find a use for them until I was playing around with a cookie dough recipe earlier this week. And with a little tahini and big flakes of salt, it was the perfect marriage of a candy I otherwise am not too fond for. And maybe there's an allegory there, maybe there's some kind of holiday sustainability I'm in right now; but maybe there's not and that's okay, too.

Malted Milk Ball Cookies

Malted Milk Ball and Tahini Cookies

Makes 1 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 TB tahini
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature and beaten slightly
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Roughly 30 malted milk balls (Whoppers), crushed

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together
  2. In a stand mixer (or by hand), cream together butter, tahini, and sugar until light
  3. Add egg and vanilla, beat for another minute or so
  4. With mixer on, slowly add in your dry ingredients (I actually did it on low and a spoonful at a time and I think it came together better than dumping in)
  5. Finally, stir in your Whoppers
  6. Place in fridge and rest for 1 hour
  7. While dough is finishing up resting, prepare a cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat and preheat oven to 375*F
  8. Roll out a dozen dough balls, each about 1 1/2 to 2 TB of dough and place on baking sheet
  9. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until edges brown
  10. Allow to cool slightly before eating

 

Malted Milk Ball and Tahini Cookies
Malted Milk Ball and Tahini Cookies
Malted Milk Ball and Tahini Cookies
Malted Milk Ball and Tahini Cookies
Malted Milk Ball and Tahini Cookies
Malted Milk Ball and Tahini Cookies
Malted Milk Ball and Tahini Cookies

Nordic Ware Double-Whammy: Just in Time for the Holidays

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Last year, I did a DNA test with Ancestry.com. I wanted to see where I was from, in the national sense. In the ethnic sense. In the cultural sense, having been so devoid and divorced from all the culture I grew up in. I wanted a summary, a percentage chart to tell me who and what and where I could be. It turns out, I'm European. German, and Irish and English. Those are my roots, in the proverbial sense. In the lackadaisical sense of a diaspora that have all culminated to the Eastern part of Indiana where I was born.

Midwestern, that's all you really need to know, at the end of the day, of who I am and what I am.

I thought about this as I perused the books that Nordic Ware sent me to review and bake from. I thought about how my ancestors on my father's side settled in the same county they live in now. How they looked at the expanse of field and the gentle, almost imperceptible slope of flat, flat earth and thought this was a place to raise a family. I thought about how their Protestant work ethic fed families of 8, 10, 12. I thought about how that has shaped the way I eat today - how these cookbooks, and so many more, are a reflection of inherited values and cultures and belief systems that I've lived at the very edge of my entire life, but never deep in their thickets.

Below, I made a bundt cake. I added mayonnaise as the recipe called for. It lasted for days, moist and tender and just the right amount of darkness to it. I also made Swedish pancakes. Lighter, they spread out paper thin on the griddle I used. A bit of fig jam or confectioner's sugar did the trip. They filled me up. They were made with simple ingredients. They told a story I'm still figuring out, about the place I'm from and who I am and how I got here.

Nordic Ware - Book Reviews

Earlier in the Fall, Nordic Ware asked that I bake from two books for them, in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society. These books connected with their brand and heritage, which has always been a subject I've gone back to in my own writing. 

Nordic Ware - Chocolate Bundt Cake
Nordic Ware: Chocolate Bundt Cake
Nordic Ware: Chocolate Bundt Cake

Bundt Cake Bliss - find more info here.

When I got this book, I was curious to see if I would find a recipe that I would connect with. While I do not stray away from more down-home style cakes, I wanted my baking to feel authentic. What surprised me was, behind the cover, it read like a regular ol' spiral-bound church cookbook, complete with names and small suggestions for variations. It felt right at home. 

So, for this recipe, I baked a classic cake that I remember growing up with: a chocolate bundt made with mayonnaise. Because of the high oil content, I was worried this cake would fall to pieces when I took it out of the pan. Not a problem with with Nordic Ware's copper bundt pan

You can find the recipe in Bundt Cake Bliss. The photos below show a drizzle I did of cream cheese and a bit of milk and confectioner's sugar.

Jul - find more info here.

For me, Nordic food is a new arena and not one that really played into the food I grew up on in the Midwest..or so I thought. It was exciting to see recipes that my own family had derivatives from--meatballs, Christmas breads, and even pancakes. The high quality of the pictures and easy recipes had me dreaming of how to incorporate a bit of Swedish food into my Christmas table this year.

I made a super simple Swedish Pancake recipe from Jul, using Nordic Ware's slim griddle. As mentioned, I topped mine with fig jam and a squeeze of lemon juice. It was perfect. 

Nordic Ware - Swedish Pancakes
Nordic Ware - Swedish Pancakes
Nordic Ware - Swedish Pancakes

A special thanks to Nordic Ware for sponsoring this post. Nordic Ware has been producing quality kitchenware products in their 70 years and are now one of America's most beloved and iconic brands. For more information or products, check out their website!

Holiday Baking Continued: Goat Cheese-Stuffed Wheat Buns!

Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)

Nolan, my sister, her husband, and I are taking a trip to New York tomorrow. It's a bus trip, 10 hours riding on a coach bus for the sake for 8 hours in the city. We're going because we used to do this when we were younger. We're doing this to reignite some old traditions that will, most likely, never fit into the mold of our lives now; but, god damnit if we don't try.

But this week, I've done a lot of baking. A lot of testing. A lot of trying to make the house warm with the oven on. A lot of convincing myself to keep moving forward, a direction I've always considered to be the better of the the two options available. And, to keep this post as short as possible so I can finish packing, here is a recipe I made this week. Goat cheese-stuffed buns, made with wheat and studded with walnuts. A little bit of the warmest flavors I could find in the fridge to stave off the cold from coming too close to our kitchen.

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Wheat Buns

Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 packet of Red Star platinum yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg + 1 white, both room temperature (use extra yolk for egg wash, see directions below)
  • 2 TB honey
  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces goat cheese (I used Vermont Creamery’s Coupole, but any goat cheese will do)
  • Walnuts, if desired

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk, water, and butter until butter is completely melted. Stir to combine and transfer to your stand mixer’s bowl. Let stand until temperature reaches 110*F
  2. Add yeast and salt
  3. Let stand for 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbling
  4. While mixture is resting, sift together flours
  5. Turn on stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook, and add your egg and honey
  6. With mixer still on, add your flour mixture, about a ½ cup at a time, until a shaggy dough forms (depending on your wheat flour used and altitude, you may require just a little less flour than this recipe calls for)
  7. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 6 minutes or until dough is springy to the touch
  8. Place in an oiled bowl and let rest for one hour at room temperature
  9. After your hour has elapsed, preheat oven to 400*F and grease a 9-inch pan thoroughly. Also, cut your goat cheese into 8 pieces or so
  10. Punch dough down and divide into 8 or 9 pieces
  11. Pat each piece of dough flat with the palms of your hands and place a piece of goat cheese in the center
  12. Form a ball with the dough, leaving the goat cheese in the center
  13. Place in your pan
  14. Repeat with remaining dough
  15. Now, whisk your extra yolk with a teaspoon of water to create your egg wash. Brush a bit on top of each dough ball
  16. Press a walnut in the center of each ball, if desired, as well
  17. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown
  18. Serve immediately for a melt, delicious warm bun. But, these can keep and be reheated for up to two days in an airtight container
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)
Goat Cheese Stuffed Honey Wheat Rolls (Red Star Yeast and Vermont Creamery)

Thank you to Red Star Yeast for sponsoring this post. I believe in using quality products when it comes to baking and I am always confident my dough will rise beautifully with Red Star! Check out the active dry yeast I used for this recipe and others on their website, follow them on instagram and like their Facebook!

And while you're at it...like my Facebook and Instagram too!

The Farm's First Christmas!

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It's really beginning to feel like the holidays for me now. It never did before. In college, I felt that being home was a burden, a hazy one that either ended with me moping in my room, or texting my college friends with small details of how "annoying" my family was. In California, as I've talked about before, it never felt like Christmas, wearing shorts and driving the interstate to find fast food restaurants that would stay open for us. Or, some years, we split the burden--one of us would stay with the dogs while the other spent Christmas with family back in Pennsylvania. Lonely is all I remember for three years then.

I didn't keep up with the traditions; I never bothered to try. Maybe it was too painful, or maybe I just didn't really care that much. Those in-between years of settling and resettling, in rented houses and backyards that were too small, I never thought I had anything to celebrate. And, as always, I was wrong. And, as always, I'm learning.

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We moved into our house just after the holidays last year, so this is the first time we're really experiencing it all. The tree, the fir, the snow-packed dog paws that melt on the hardwood floors. Old ornaments from second-hand stores and our mothers' attics. Wooden ones, broken ones, ones that hang on paperclips instead of hooks. Things we've never done before, experiences that I've been wanting to create.

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And it was good. Rushed, but good. Haphazard, but good, to look back at a year of questions and answers and understand that sometimes the most fun we're going to have in a week is doing the mindless, repetitive tasks that we used to hate as kids.

And the same goes for cookies. It used to be a tradition, one that I seemed to forget about until I'm hungry for something sweet. But this year, as I shared with Modern Farmer, it's turned into something I love doing. Decorating, baking, cutting shapes and dipping them in coffee. I can't wait to give them out as gifts this year. And below this recipe is a special surprise for your pup as well!

 

 

 

 

Iced Sugar Cookies

Modern Farmer - Christmas Tree Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg (of course, we used our girls' fresh eggs!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy
2. Add egg and vanilla and mix together
3. Sift together dry ingredients and gently stir into your butter mixture
4. Turn out onto a floured work surface and pat into a disc. Wrap and chill for 1 hour
5. Preheat oven to 400*F
6. Roll out and cut dough into desired shapes (about 3/4 inch thickness worked best for me)
7. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes, or until edges are just browned

For decorating: Use dyed royal icing (my ratio is 1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar for each 1 egg white, plus a 1/4 teaspoon of water or so, mixed with your dyes) and a bit of patience for the decorating. I always remind myself that the more handmade it looks, the more love I put into it--so I never stress too much about perfection!
 

Modern Farmer - Christmas Tree Cookies
Modern Farmer - Christmas Tree Cookies
Modern Farmer - Christmas Tree Cookies

And here is an alternative for your best pal! Make these dog treats (recipe was shared here) and give them away to all your dog loving friends!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Biscuits
Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Biscuits
Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Biscuits
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