Maple-Glazed Rosemary Pecans

So I guess I’m not the only person who has no-recipe recipes. I was a little concerned with this, as it is a little vague, but it turned out quite smashing.

D&D_2677I love sugared nuts and fresh rosemary goes so very well with the slight sweetness of fresh, fat pecans – great pairing. Now you do have to spend the dead presidents on the maple syrup and I do that anyway, but this is an application where you want top quality everything. Don’t skimp. The pecans are locals – Renfroe – the best available around here and are always stored in the refrigerator. The Maldon is from SaltWorks – affordable, easy shipping costs, and lots of other salt options to try.  Rosemary has to be freshly cut from whatever little/big plant you have.

I start a rosemary every early spring in a pot and then move it to a strange little place in our yard. There is no watering going on there, it is bordered by our driveway and is backed by a brick way – oh, and it it west-facing. That is prime real estate for rosemary. Hot and dry makes excellent rosemary. The first one I planted there went from a 4 inch pot to a 4 foot wide plant. I miss that thing – garden remodel and stupid mistake. But I now have a new little plant in a pot to start again.

2 cups raw pecan halves
Maple syrup
Flakey salt – Maldon
Fresh rosemary leaves, minced
Zest of a lemon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay pecans on single layer on parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle a few rosemary leaves on top. Add lemon zest. Drizzle with maple syrup, enough to coat with more for pecans to sizzle in. Sprinkle with a few pinches of sea salt. Mix it all together with a spatula.

Bake 5 – 7 minutes, checking regularly. Remove when syrup is bubbling and the nuts are beginning to just brown. Let cool, turning to coat with any maple, rosemary, and salt. Check for salt and make sure it is where you like to balance the maple syrup and accent the rosemary.


Notes: Next time I make these I will add some heat, probably cayenne, but maybe a dash or two of hot sauce in the maple syrup would be good. Next time, and there will be a next time, I will squeeze the lemon juice over the hot pecans as they come out of the oven.

If a recipe calls for flakey salt, I always use Maldon. Worth every penny and every pinch.

Pecan Pie – necessary for Thanksgiving

In my family, you always got what you wanted for your birthday meal. That included dessert. In my case it was tacos with corn tortillas and all the fixing and then … guess it, and it makes to no sense at all – pecan pie. I think I might have been a very strange person when you get right down to it. Yeah, I was, and still am, strange. But at this point in life I really do not care anymore.

D&D_2326I have made the recipe for at least five years and possibly more, but I like the idea of making the custard on the stovetop before filling the crust. It is a little bit of extra security in making a pie. The custard is half way there and then you bake – lovely when it is all said and done. And there is the other requirement – the Boy always wants this for Thanksgiving and to be honest, I cannot blame him, because I do too.

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs molasses
4 Tbs unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted – Renfroes
1 – 9 inch unbaked pie shell, chilled in the pie plate for 30 minutes*

Adjust oven rack to second-lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

In a sauce pan, heat syrup, brown sugar, cream, and molasses oven medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in butter and salt and then whisk in egg yolks until incorporated.

Take pie pan out of the fridge and put the pecans in the pie shell. Pour in the filling and place in oven, but immediately reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake until filling is set and center is slightly jiggly, somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes. Cool pie on a cooling rack for at least and hour and then set in the fridge for at least 3 hours more, but a day would be better. Bring to room temperature before slicing and serving.

D&D_2342This is lovely gooey in a non cloying way – I think it is the lack of corn syrup. Maple and molasses bring so much depth to the pie. Really do not think I will ever do anything else but this.

*Used a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust and it worked really well (need to figure out what to do with the other one, hm?). Just make sure you put it in a glass pie pan (Anchor) and put it in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Makes a difference. Oh, and do chill it for 30 minutes. Again, makes a difference.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen or Cook’s Country or whatever – why do they need two names after all. It is just confusing. At least to my little blonde self.

22 November 2017

Bittersweet (Duck Egg) Brownies

I’ve been thinking about what to do with my latest batch (dozen) of duck eggs. They are just slightly richer and sometimes a little larger than chicken eggs, though not always bigger. I’m not a huge brownie person, but think about it – rich eggs in lots of chocolate. I can see how this should be a very good thing. I can also see how my friends who really like chocolate will like them – at least I hope so. D&D_2172

16 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into Tbs
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces (Ghirardelli)
4 eggs – fresh local duck eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. fine salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (Renfroes’)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper; grease paper. Set pan aside.

Pour enough water into a 4-quart saucepan that it reaches a depth of 1″. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Combine butter and chocolate in a medium bowl; set bowl over saucepan. Cook, stirring, until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.

Whisk together eggs in a large bowl. Add sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt; whisk to combine. Stir in chocolate mixture; fold in flour. Pour batter into prepared pan; spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 30–35 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Cut and serve.

Source: Saveur – Nick Malgieri (Nick’s “Supernatural” Brownies)

I cut these into small bite-sized pieces and I am glad I did – they are super rich. In my head, these need to be crumbled into some vanilla ice cream – and that, in and of itself, is rather funny, since I’m (again) not a huge brownie/chocolate fan and really do not care for ice cream either. But I really need to get the boy to get some soft serve from somewhere and give that a try.

The pieces in the center are almost fudge like and the ones on the edges, my favorite, have that little crispy bit of edge. Really, for someone who does not care for brownies, these are pretty damn good. But, rich, oh. so. very. rich.

Making Baking Easier 

When most of your cooking / baking takes place on the weekends, which mine always do, anything you can do to make it easier goes a long way towards motivation. So this is something I learned from my mom. Ever Christmas my mom would make loaves and loaves of banana nut bread – it was like an assembly line. She was only slightly famous for her banana nut bread. Everyone wanted to be on the list. It wasn’t Christmas without her banana nut bread and I still make it every year since I finally got it right. Lord, that took a few years because the temperature has to change during the baking process, but I never had the timing or the temperature. Thanks mom. Can’t really blame her, I think this recipe was in her blood in a certain way. Once I figured it out, I would take it to Fred and he was happy. And it is just something I need at Christmas, but sometimes I make it in the summer because it has been six months since I’ve had it last. Guess that means it is time to make one this summer. DD_0206

Okay, back to making baking easier – my mom would always prep her dry ingredients ahead of time. Then all you had to do the day baking is get your butter and eggs out and it is super quick to mix everything up and boom! you are done.

So by Thursday night I like to have my plans for the weekend baking finalized and then measure out all my dry ingredients and put them in zip top bags to make the weekend baking easier. And once it is easier bake, it makes motivation happen. To be honest this also makes weeknight baking, when I’m in the mood, easier to just put something together to make me, The Boy, and the test kitchen happy.

I think my office and students would prefer to be called my test kitchen rather than my guinea pigs.  But I also want my friends to challenge me to try new things. 

So this is what I do on a Thursday night … get ready for my baking weekend. Yep.D&D_1950

It really works and makes life so much easier. Thanks mom!

Pecan Pie Cookies

It is a well-known fact that I will try any kind of “pecan pie” anything. Pecan pie muffins – so there. Pecan pie cookies, hell, even pecan sandies ^ of all sorts of varieties. I just cannot help myself. I am not a huge ice cream person, but the one thing in the ice cream world I do love is butter pecan ice cream, as long as the pecans have a bit of salt on them. dd_1798

If I were not so cheap, I would buy an ice cream machine and figure out how to make the best butter pecan ice cream, but then I might just end up being as big as a house and that serves one well in the grand scheme of things.

So here we have a new pecan pie cookie. One I really like. I also make my pecan pie muffins the same week – do we see a theme? Yep.

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 (12 Tbs) cup unsalted butter, softened
1  large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped pecans (Renfroes *)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Sift together flour,  baking powder, and salt and beat in at low speed until well mixed. Chill 2 hours.

Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Make indentation in each cookie with a measuring teaspoon; rotate to hollow out slightly

Combine all filling ingredients in bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling. Bake 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack.

Source: Modified from Land o’ Lakes

* Having local fresh pecans is just an absolute joy. I guess simple things make me happy.

^Make these. No really, do this.

Almost Cowboy Cookies

Yet again another cookie that I never had a child (see: Snickerdoodles). I knew these were sold at the Publix when I was a kid, but we never bought any of them. I think, to me, they were a bit of a mash-up cookie – too many things involved. They are a little bit chocolate chip cookie, a little bit oatmeal pecan cookie and then you add coconut into the mix. Strikes me as strange – but I understand a lot of people really like them. I am so not digging the coconut, so we will try without it this time. I guess that means I need to call them something other than Cowboy Cookies, but I’m not sure what – well, Almost Cowboy Cookies seems to work.dd_1770

I guess the thing that sets me off is I really (no, REALLY!) do not like chocolate with oatmeal. There is nothing worse that thinking you have got a straight up old-fashioned oatmeal raisin cookie and find out – the hard way – Ugh – that it is oatmeal and chocolate chips. Every feeling revolts.

But I guess if going into this you know what you are dealing with it will decrease the amount of shock when you taste the cookie. And apparently, lots of people like this kind of cookie – if they did not the Publix would not sell them. That is a fact.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
6 Tbs sugar
6 Tbs brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans (Renfroes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth and then add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat to just incorporate. Stir in oats, chocolate, and pecans. Form dough into 24 balls and bake 12 at a time for 16 – 18 minutes rotating the baking pan half way through. Cool on baking sheet for a minute and the cool on a wire rack. Let baking pan cool and do the whole thing over again.

Makes 24 cookies (that should really be obvious).

Source: modified from Saveur

16 Sept 12 – v.g.

7 January 17 –  indeed, v.g.

2015 Mushroom Pate

Pecan Toffee Shortbread – Cook’s Country

I have a thing about shortbread. It really is kind of magical. I think it is the butter that makes it so good – a shortbread is a butter cookie after all. I do love a recipe that you can mix a day or two ahead and then bake it at your leisure. They say “marry in haste and repent in leisure.” Cookies are not that way – leisure can totally fit into the picture and I think cookies that sit in the fridge for a day or so are always better – when you have the time, that is. They can be convenient if you plan a little ahead,  which I always (almost always) do – because that is just me. I made this recipe the first time in 2009 and I thought it was good, but I think I may need to make improvements to this recipe – see my notes below.dd_1763

I am not a fan of a dough you have to roll out. I think that tells you lots about me. I am lazy-ish mostly – even in baking. Sigh.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped pecans – Renroes, of course.
1/2 cup toffee bits
Confectioners’ sugar*

Sift together flour, cornstarch, and salt over a piece of waxed paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, both sugars, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture, chocolate, pecans and toffee. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for an hour or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters, re-rolling as necessary. Place cookies 1 inch apart and bake until edges are golden brown, about 12 – 14 minutes, rotating half way through. Cool 10 minutes on baking sheet. Sift confectioners’ sugar over to serve. 

This is a good recipe, but somehow it just has too much stuff in it to be a shortbread. It is a bit of a pain to roll out – mini chips, toffee, pecans (and I did make them small). I tried to make it simple, but I also wonder if I could not make the same cookie and then roll it into a log and slice and bake – yes, the lazy is coming right back. I do not like rolling out dough, sugar cookies being the exception (and there are several examples of that). I do the same thing with cheese crackers – just give me a slice and bake and I am a very happy girl.

*I kind of skipped the confectioners’ sugar for this and went for sanding sugar. Confectioners’ sugar sort of disappears after a bit (read: very short period of time), but I do like sanding sugar, and since I have been making sugar cookies recently, it was what was in my mind and I thought it worked well.

2015 – Two years ago – Sweet Tomato Chutney