Scottish Sharp Cheddar Shortbread

You know me – any chance at a cheese cracker, especially a cheddar cracker, and I am all in. This was a new recipe to me, but it seemed like it had all the things I like about a cheese cracker – with one glaring exception – you had to roll the damn dough out. Ugh. I just hate that beyond words. I will roll out sugar cookies. I will roll out pie dough, but why should I have to roll out crackers. It just seems unnecessary when you can roll cracker dough into a log – chill – slice – and bake and make perfectly good crackers.

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So I decided to buck the recipe and go for what made the most sense to me. Guess what? It totally worked and has made me be a little more critical of all future cracker recipes. Make it easier – why not; it also fits into my favorite way to bake – make the dough one day and bake a day (or two) later. Fits my work week baking plan to a T.

8 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper – 1/4 tsp at a minimum
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Using electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat together butter, salt, black pepper, and cayenne at low speed just until blended. Add Cheddar and flour and mix at low speed just until smooth, Do not over-mix because that makes crappy crackers.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake shortbread until lightly golden and beginning to brown on edges, about 13 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Source: Epicurious

Original Directions: Shape dough into disk, wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and chill 30 minutes. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4- to 1/8-inch-thick round. Using 1 1/2- to 2-inch round cutter, cut out rounds and arrange 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Reroll scraps if desired (rerolled scraps will be tougher).

This is why rolling out crackers is just annoying. I think I have figured out the best way to do it. Out of laziness. Yep, that is me.

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.

Blueberry Upside-Down Skillet Cake

I think this is such a great idea. I love blueberries.  A lot. I really am not too much of a fan of other fruits. There are just a few:  Blueberries, blackberries, nectarines, grapes, apples, esp. Granny Smith, raisins, but that is dried fruit but it is still fruit and I love that. Are cranberries a fruit? I am not sure, but I like them both fresh and dried. I guess they are a fruit. This just shows my lack of knowledge. And I am too lazy to check it out.

I think the orange juice in this in this recipe will likely make it. I have orange juice in my cranberry relish recipe for Thanksgiving and it makes me happy. It just works. Sometimes you just need that slight acidity with a little sweetness – not the over powering citrus like a lemon. But some times you need that too – Pecorino Chicken is a great example. Indeed.

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4 Tbs unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
8 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a ten-inch oven proof* skillet, melt butter over medium low heat, stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in orang juice and the place blueberries over mixture.

In a large-ish bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, mix together egg, milk, butter, and vanilla until blended. Add wet ingredients into flour mixture, until it just comes together – do not over mix. Pour over blueberry in the skillet.

Bake 18 – 22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto serving plate. Dust with some powder sugar, or, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream or whatever strikes your fancy.

Notes: I am going to make this again. I did not let it bake enough to set the cake. Boo. That said, the parts that I did eat were really good. I may make this the next time with frozen (organic – yes, I did it) blueberries which means I could make it just about any time.

Source: I got nothing. And I really feel bad about that. If someone recognizes this –  let me know. I want to give credit where credit is due. But sometimes I just mess up in this department.

* If you are not sure if your skillet, esp. the handle, is heat-proof at this temperature, just wrap the handle in a couple of layers of heavy duty foil. It works. See: Apple Sour Cream Butterscotch Upside-Down Cake that I make all the time, especially for the Boy’s birthday.

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Pesto – amazing 

pesto [pes-toh]

noun, Italian Cookery.
1. a sauce typically made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and grated Parmesan blended together and served hot or cold over pasta, fish, or meat.
In college, I made some great friends, and one of them was a girl named Karen T. (cannot believe I remembered her whole name, but somehow that makes me feel good, but won’t divulge).
She threw excellent (read: grown up) parties. If you said you would attend, you were actually expected to do so. She was a great cook – the first person I knew to make chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. She totally rocked, and she also introduced me to pesto. I think it was her mom’s recipe, photocopied, and I remember this most clearly, the recipe was called “Pesto by the food processor method.” Hysterical now, but at the time a totally new thing for me.
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It is basically the “recipe” I still make today, except I substitute walnuts for pine nuts. I don’t notice a difference, so it works for me. And I always have walnuts in the freezer.
It’s great for pasta, for pasta salad, add some sun-dried tomatoes and it is excellent in my sun-dried tomato pesto torte. Have I not made that for you? Damn, will rectify that situation soon.

Basil – 2 bunches, stems removed mostly
Garlic – 2 cloves or or more if you would like it
1 1/4 cups walnuts or there abouts – fear the pine nuts.
1/4 cup really good olive oil
A good bit of freshly grated Parmesan – indeed.

First chop the garlic in the food processor. Then add the walnuts and mix it up again   Do this before you add the basil. Because this is a good thing. It just seems to work so well. Then stream the olive oil in and the when it is all done, add the Parmesan. And if you want to go crazy add some sun-dried tomatoes. Because that is amazing. Yep.

I was to go to Italy with Karen and Dierdre in the spring of 1993, but giving birth to the Boy put those plans into a stall. Never regret it. And he was eating pesto as a 3 years-old – he was that kind of boy. Sushi, sure. Pesto, yep. Mushroom pate – always. Kids will try anything if you don’t make a big deal of it.
Karen moved to New Jersey and we lost touch, but some things stick with you in an important way. And I miss them both.

Bundt Pan problem – redux.

Dear lord, I do understand that I have too many bundt pans, but when you are a real Southern baking woman, can that really be true? Or are you a real baker? In my head, that is a no. Never too many bundt pans and never too many recipes for pound cake either. This is one of my William-Sonoma Gold Touch Pans. They are just too amazing. The bake is great – not too dark and not too light. They say they are non-stick-ish, but I never trust that and spray with baking spray, especially to get in the corners and what nots of these pans.

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All my Williams  Sonoma bundt pans are from Nordic Wear – a made in America company that has been around for ages and a day – since 1946. This one is the heritage bundt pan based on the German design of the kugelhopf. To be honest, this is one of the simplest of the bundt pans that I have, but it is one of my favorites.  It still is rather architectural and looks good with a simple bit of confectioners’ sugar on it.

Hey – look at that – I spelled confectioners’ right the first time – slightly amazing.

July – August 2016 – butter & eggs usage

9 July 2016 – Pear Bleu Cheese Turnovers – 1 large egg

And here is where is gets really sad –  nothing else until …

6 August 2016 – Creamed Corn – 3 Tbs butter

7 August 2016 – Chicken Salad & Egg Salad – 8 large eggs (boiled)

10 August 2016 – Red Onion, Asparagus Fettuccini White Wine, Orange Juice, Butter Sauce – 4 Tbs butterD&D_1533

17 August 2016 – Roasted Mushrooms – 2 Tbs butter

26 August 2016 – Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Chip Sour Cream Cake – 5 Tbs butter – 1 large egg

16 August 2016 – Brownie Cups – 16 Tbs butter – 4 large eggs

Well, I will give myself this excuse that summer is not terribly conducive to baking – or cooking – honestly. I can just skip dinner at this time of year.

Sour Cream, Chocolate Chip, & Butterscotch Chip Cake

Yes, I take the Oxford comma seriously. That said, this kind of cake just sounded a little too good to be true. However, I think it delivers. Sour cream gives it a tang, and chocolate chips are really pretty good, but add the butterscotch chips and it seems a good balance – but I do have butterscotch thing. Always had. My father used to buy me butter rum lifesavers and bring them home after work. I seemed to always be checking his shirt pockets for lifesavers and the butter rum and cherry were my favorites. . The MotH* tried it and had some suggestions that I think will be good the next time I make it. His idea is to leave off the butterscotch chips and add some chopped pecans (Renfroe Pecans = local pecans) and to be honest, I think I could do without butterscotch and chocolate and just put in the pecans and this cake would be just, pretty much amazing.dd_1549

1 1/2 cups (6.8 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of vanillla
1 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup butterscotch chips

Vanilla Icing – sorry did not do this, but if it works for you – go on then.**
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan – I just love baking spray – it makes this part easier.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda together over a piece of waxed paper.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the cooled butter, sugar, vanilla, sour cream, egg and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sour cream mixture and stir until blended (batter will be thick), then stir in the chips. Transfer the batter to the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then carefully turn from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

*Man of the House.

**Again, did not do this – it seemed to be gilding the lily, but I am not a fan of overly sweet things. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl or a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup. Add the confectioners’ sugar and stir to coat it with butter – it will be thick and pasty. Slowly add the milk about 1/2 tablespoon at a time, mixing well and adding more until you get the consistency you like. Stir in the vanilla. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

Again, I think this vanilla icing is so not necessary. Just me though. To each her own.dd_1548

Source: Cookie Madness – once again. A great site with lots of recipes I really like. That does not mean I will not try modification of this idea – because that what people who cook/bake do. Everything is a springboard to something new.