It is August – what’s with the pumpkins??

This happens every year. It is so amazingly annoying. Why are pumpkin recipes showing up in my in box in friggin August? Okay, I get that it may be towards the end of summer in parts of the country. But for the lord’s sake, it isn’t even Labor Day yet. Do we have to anticipate this much.

Hello, Williams Sonoma – I do not want pumpkin plates in August. Do you not have an algorithim for different zip codes? We’ll be damn lucky if it gets cool in, um, November. Right now we are worried about record heat, serious rain fall, flooding, and the possibility of hurricanes. Fuck pumpkins.* Not everyone lives in the north east. I am really thinking the people in California are feeling the same way – excepting the hurricane bit.

dd_img_0850-edit*Sorry, slightly rude, but so on point.

Walnut Tartlets 

I bought these small tartlet pans  – they are kind of like tart pans with removable sides, but just smaller.  They have been sitting around for a couple of months, but I finally decided to do something with them. So I took a tart recipe and made do with it. I also changed the nuts from pecans to walnuts, but the idea remains the same. Mostly.

dd_1641

Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 Tbs ice water

Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
2 cups chopped walnuts

*^* special equipment: 4 – 4″ tartlet pans with removable sides.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cubed butter and pulse until mixture is pea sized. Add ice water a teaspoon at a time and pulse until dough comes together into a ball. Turn dough onto a surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Press dough into bottom of tart pans and working up the side, making sure the pan is covered, but not too thick. Place a piece of foil on each pan, pressing into dough to hold its shape. Place the pans in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove pans from the freezer and remove foil. Place a piece of foil on a baking sheet and add tartlet pans. Prick bottom of tart dough with a fork and bake 15 – 20 minutes or until dough is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Lower oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar, egg, and salt until well combined. Divide filling among the 4 tartlets.

Place tartlets on foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned and a little puffy. Remove from oven and let cool to the touch. Remove outer ring of tartlet pans. Let cool completely before cutting.

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting 

So I have been interested in cupcakes and muffins lately, and this was a request – lemon cupcakes. And I also want to use the new cupcake liners that I got from the Amazon. They are really kind of pretty. Not very fall like, but I do like the pink. dd_1645
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 Tbs lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbs canola oil
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in lemon zest.

In a bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, oil, and lemon extract. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, folding with a spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix.

Fill muffin cups half full and bake 29 – 31 minutes or until toothpick come out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Set on a rack to cool.

Frosting:
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
juice of one lemon and zest that lemon too, if you are going for it. You should
8 ozs powdered sugar, sifted**

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice. Once smooth, sift in powdered sugar (sifting keeps the frosting smooth).

I think next time I will leave out the lemon extract from the cupcakes. It just seems to take over. Bugger all. I really think I like lemon extract less as time goes on. No, I know I do.

Cranberry Relish 

I have been making this relish for a very long time and you either like it or you do not – it is either a horseradish thing, or more likely, a cloves thing. I really do not think there is a middle ground here. I am forever in debt to my lovely mother in law – who is now my only mom for the great gift of lots of serving bowls*. I know I use this one year after year, but it is really beautiful. Indeed. dd_1651

I started making this just after the Boy and I came back from England. And I shared it with a really good friend the first time. Now I share with lots of friends – and that makes me really happy. I am 90% sure this is a recipe from Southern Living Magazine.

2 packages (6 cups) fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/3 cup prepared horseradish, just drain it a bit
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Rinse cranberries, removing any that seem suspect. Combine sugar and orange juice in a large saucepan. Heat until sugar is dissolved on medium heat. Add cranberries and mix until the cranberries start to burst. Simmer for a bit. Let cool completely. Mix in the horseradish and the cloves. Refrigerate.  This will keep for months. And that is an excellent thing. Because you never know when you are going to need it.

For friends this year:

Traci 
Sandy
Joyce
Elaine
Josh
Tony
Ham

I am on my second batch and I am sure there will be a third batch. I just tell people when your canning jar is empty, let me know and I will fill it up again with cranberry relish. Because this is the time for fresh cranberries.

That being said, frozen cranberries (fresh cranberries that you shuffle off into the freezer), work for this too. No, really, they do. And I do freeze fresh cranberries, because you never know when you want cranberries with horseradish, especially in the summer. Yes, for a summer turkey sandwich with bleu cheese dressing and cranberry relish. That is good stuff.  And Tony says make the sandwich on Hawaiian rolls – I cannot believe I did not think of that before – duh.

* Need to get pictures of all the serving bowls she gave me – they are pretty much amazing.

 

 Sugar Cookies with Hershey Kisses

Another cookie at the request of someone to help me push my limits. I cannot remember the last time I purchased Hershey Kisses – it might be never, but someone at my beach local requested a Hershey Kiss cookie and I was loathe to do it with the traditional peanut butter cookie part. Guess that’s my prejudice – it is not a combination that I care for. So I found this recipe for a sugar cookie, to my mind, a more neutral base.

It is the hazard of being a food blogger: You make something, but do not get to shoot photos because a certain 20-something year old lives with you or at least stops by often eats everything before you have the chance to take pictures. Damn it. Well, guess that means I will have to make this again sometime soon. I do have a shite load of Hershey Kisses still left in the pantry, sort of like all those M&M’s I have in pantry.

It is not that I do not like chocolate, I just don’t seem to be distracted by it like lots of people (read: women) are. A chocolate kiss here and there is nice, but I can let an open bag sit in the pantry for just about ever. It is always the way it has been for me.

1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
35 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped, um … duh
1/2 cups powdered sugar (optional – for rolling – really, not optional in my opinion)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift over a piece of waxed paper, flour, salt, and baking soda.

Beat butter, egg, sugar, and vanilla until blended. Slowly blend the dry ingredients and the milk into the butter mixture.

Shape  cookies into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in powdered sugar.

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until the cookies are just slightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes. Press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Move cookies to a wire rack to completely cool. Makes around 35 cookies.

Bench Notes: This dough takes a little work. It is not easy. You have to man-handle it a bit to get round balls of dough, but it is certainly worth the effort. The Boy was my taste tester for the first one.

Yes, I do that. Bake the single cookie just to see how it works. Since I had never done something like this before – I mean with the Hershey Kiss – I figured it was a wise thing to do. Nothing worse that throwing a whole pan of cookies in the oven and not really having a clue how things are going to work. And then have to throw them in the trash can. That just about kills me. So I have learned my lesson – a test cookie is a good thing.

Maybe next time there will be a picture. Hopefully.

Edna Frillmann’s Warm Potato Salad 

I have not made “German” potato salad for Thanksgiving before, but I did this year just for kicks. Once again, we shall see how this works.

I love family recipes which, based on what I’ve read, this is, from a good Lutheran family (read: German) in the Midwest. It was from the NPR show Here & Now just before Thanksgiving and well, any excuse to try a new German potato recipe – I will take it. dd_1657

1 3/4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled – my decision to use Yukon Golds
6 slices of thick cut bacon
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup cider vinegar

Place potatoes in medium sized pot, cover with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil until tender but still holding its shape. Drain well, let cool and slice into 1/4 inch slices.

Fry bacon in a large skillet until crisp.  Remove bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Leave bacon fat in skillet.

Cook onion in bacon fat until soft. Stir in sugar, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture is bubbly. Add water and vinegar and heat to boiling, stirring and watching carefully. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add the potatoes. Stir until all potatoes are coated. Check seasoning. Serve warm.

In my case for this Thanksgiving, I will reheat and add bacon just before serving. 

This was not bad, but did not live up to my ideal version from The Creamery. I honestly don’t think any recipe would. But I would give just about anything for that recipe. No, really, just about anything.  

Sunday Sweet Potatoes

I know I do this every year, but this are so important in the pantheon of holiday foods for out holiday. Requested by all and dead simple in the grand scheme of things. DD_0315

3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes – lately, I prefer roasting them ahead of time
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup chopped pecans – or more if you prefer, which I do*
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Mix potatoes, sugar, milk, 1/3 cup melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. Put into glass casserole dish**. Blend coconut, pecans, brown sugar, flour and 1/2 cup melted butter. Top potato mixture with coconut/nut mixture. Bake at 375 degrees F.20 – 25 minutes or until brown.
Bench Notes:
*I also usually use a mix of pecans and walnuts and always use more than 1 cup because that is what you should do.
**You can use a 9 x 13″ glass casserole or a 11 x 13″ glass casserole (which I think is a better ratio – more crunchy bits on top).
Since I never have any idea of how many sweet potatoes are needed to make three cups of mashed sweet potato, I always end up with extra – hello, sweet potato biscuits. Now a traditional Thanksgiving appetizer stuffed with ham and horseradish cream. Thanks, JW.
Recipe from my sister-in-law – Wanda. I wonder if she knew when she started making these for our family how important they would become. Because now, no Thanksgiving or Christmas is right without them and the MotH’s family expects this – it is the side that is basically dessert. I guess that is how amazing recipes get shared from one family to another and then to another, and that makes new traditions.