Mustard-Swiss Crackers

This is a new recipe for me and a new idea as well. I have so very many cookbooks, but just for convenience sake, I usually use recipes I’ve saved on my cute little red drive from off the interweb.

Well that stops now. I am going through so rather old cookbooks to start “cooking the books.” I won’t do it all at one time, just as I feel like it, but this is my first foray into the idea.  I already know what I have next in line – spoilers, but since I had swiss in the house and all kinds of mustard and I have an unnatural thing for crackers, I decided to start here. My changes, due to not wanting to go to the Publix,  are noted below.

D&D_28248 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
8 ozs Swiss cheese, coarsely grated (2 1/4 cups)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs Dijon mustard – used Gulden’s and added Dijon to the next grocery list
2 tsp dry mustard (Coleman’s)
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds – didn’t use
1 tsp salt

In the bowl of the food processor, blend butter and cheese until almost smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. Divide dough between two sheets of waxed paper and role into an 8 inch log. Wrap tightly in wax paper and then foil; freeze until firm, 1 1/2 – 2 hours.*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Cut logs into 1/4 inch slices and arrange 1 inch apart. Bake, turning half way through until edges are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Source: The Best American Recipes: 2004-2005

Cook the Book 2018

*Refrigerate overnight – totally worked as it most of the time does.

Dough 7 April

Baked 10 April – smells a lot like mustard, but the taste is wanting. Needs some heat and I think the Swiss just gets lost in the end. So we shall try this again – maybe adding a pinch of cayenne

They bake up beautifully though, so worth another try (very soon) with some flavor adjustments. Maybe the Dijon mustard will make a change too.  Sprinkle of some salt on the top. Not sure – so many ways that this can go.

Love things you can prep and leave in the fridge and bake a few days later. Makes baking in the evening after work so much easier. You feel like you’ve accomplished something on a Wednesday or whatever.

 

“Meyer” Lemon Bars

I have this habit of asking people what they would like me to bake or cook for them. It keeps me interested in baking and cooking and pushes me outside of what I typically do. I do it at work, “what do you guys want me to make for the pot-luck?” and I do the same thing at my favorite restaurants. I think restaurant staff is not appreciated enough. Guess that comes from being a server ages ago. I hope they appreciate it, but it is more to get me to try to do different things.dd_1599

So I asked Berta, at my beach local, to tell me what she would like in the baking department, and she said my baking nemesis – lemon bars. I have not had good luck with these in the past – at all. That said, I was going to give it another go – it is a challenge after all. And I never back down from a challenge.

This is a recipe on my little USB drive of recipes that I have been working on for ages and I just sort of picked it out of the two I had. It was daunting – I have to admit that I was not comfortable trying this idea again. I did this on a Thursday because I figured if I fucked it up, I would have Friday to try again. And I am really not scared in the baking department, but you never know if things are going to go pear-shaped.

I have to say, I just cut a corner out of this and just got stupid over how good it was. That is, indeed, a good sign. I guess when I get silly about something in the kitchen, that makes me happy and pleased with myself. And that makes me think it will be something other people will like too.

Personally, I would like to keep the entire pan of these lemon bars to myself, but I won’t. But I will damn sure to make this recipe again. The original called for Meyer lemons, but I only have those when my (precious) little tree produces Meyer lemons and this is totally the wrong time of year, so I just used regular lemons. It was amazing. Stupidly so. Yeah me! yep.

Meyer Lemon Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs Meyer lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

I think I made a few friends with these – at least I really hope so. Berta loved them and her daughter asked for them on her birthday at the end of November. I guess there are more lemon people than I had imagined. I shared one of my favorite lemon things ever – lemon, white chocolate chip cookies – they sound slightly weird, but they are stupid good.

And then in my head – lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for another person that is a lemon person. I think we have to stick together. There just are not that many of us. Lemon People Unite – or something?  No, that just does not work. I guess you chocolate people have us outnumbered. Again.

Shortbread

Shortbread is an odd little cookie if you ask me. It is not sweet, much, and can be a bit difficult to work with, but I am a fan. Although it is not the first thing I would go for in the baking/cookie department. I think is pretty much amazing with tea though, I guess that is because it is a Scottish biscuit in origin. And I have to say, I do sort of mess with the general idea of shortbread – see: vanilla and sanding sugar.dd_1583

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted*
1/2 -3/4 tsp vanilla (optional, well, not really)
Sanding sugar (optional, nope, not really)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until slightly lighter in color and smooth. Sift confectioners’ sugar and salt over a piece of waxed paper. Beat with butter until light, fluffy, and smooth. Add a bit of vanilla if preferred.

Sift flour over waxed paper. Add flour and mix until just incorporated. Scrape soft dough onto plastic wrap. Cover with more plastic wrap and pat until a bit thin. Rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour – it needs to be firm to the touch.**

Using flour, roll out shortbread dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. Use your favorite cookie cutters (my mom’s) or a biscuit cutter and put the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cool the cookies in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or whatever sugar you feel inclined to use.

Bake until the tops are golden, about 12-14 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

* confectioners’ sugar always needs to be sifted. It is just a given.

** I chilled overnight because I am kind of lazy that way. Well, not really. Here’s the deal – I make a dough one night and bake it later, usually the next day. It works because I can do each step – make and then bake the next day – because during the week my baking occurs after work. I also justify this by the fact that I have read that cookie dough gets better with a bit of time in the fridge. Sure – that works for me – after all I’m making cookies during the week, not just on the weekend.

I have had this recipe in my cookie binder, yes, I have that, for a long time and I think trying to find the source of this recipe when the title is only “shortbread” is nigh on impossible. So I won’t but will thank the gods that be for a pretty good recipe that I messed with just enough to make be really happy.

 

Sausage, Cheddar, and Corn Muffins

I have a thing for breakfast muffins, especially when a pork product is involved. I just had to try these, although I did mess about with the recipe a bit. We are little bit past fresh corn season, even for us.* So I purchased frozen white shoepeg corn – one of my favorite things in the entire frozen world. I think I prefer the shoepeg because it is slightly less sweet. I have modifications to the originally recipe and know I will be making more adjustments to this recipe the next time I make it.**dd_1590

2 teaspoons olive oil
16 ounces hot breakfast sausage
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup frozen sweet white corn kernels, let thaw while you make batter
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on muffins
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with foil liners.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Break the sausage into small pieces with a spatula as it cooks. Cook until the sausage is crumbly and cooked through. Remove skillet from heat. Blot up some of the fat with  paper towels leaving about 1 tablespoon. Let mixture cool.

Place flour, corn meal, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Whisk until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and buttermilk together. Add egg/buttermilk mixture slowly to flour/cornmeal mixture. Add corn kernels, Cheddar cheese, and reserved sausage mixture. Stir in melted butter; mix just until flour is mixed in.***

Divide batter among muffin cups. Top with some extra Cheddar cheese.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool to warm before serving.

Adapted from Allrecipies … once again.dd_1591

* We have a huge rural farming community around us, but it is October and I’ll just go with frozen corn and pass on the farming left-overs.

** I was missing a little salt in these muffins. I think next time I’ll add a 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan. I could add salt, but why not make it Parmesan. More cheese and some salty flavor to the mix.

*** I mixed everything up one night and put it in the fridge. Came home the next day and let it sit until room temperature and then baked the muffins and they were great. I am a huge fan of making a recipe to a certain point and then continuing on the next night.  I have to do that since I bake/cook after I get off work.

The original recipe had scallions in it. They might be nice, but I am thinking chives next time would be a great deal better, or maybe even a shallot. Now there’s a thought.

Can you tell I will be making these again pretty soon. One of our students had one and said anytime you add sausage to something, that was a good thing. I completely agree. Any pork is a good thing.

Baking involves planning – if you want to make it easy.

D&D_9611

Easy Baking

I love to bake. I think that is probably obvious. I learned an important lesson from my mom when it comes to this. Measuring out the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt – is beyond time consuming and amazingly boring. So I use her plan to make it easy for weeknight baking which is always a pleasant surprise for the people I work with (hate ending sentence like that  – see grammar nazi – thank you Bug Martini – funny and wrong at the same time – love it!).

Once again, side tracked. So here, really, is how I do this. Say on the weekend, I’ve decided to make cookies or a cake, so I have to measure the dry ingredients, otherwise the recipe won’t work – Surprise! But while the recipe of my choice bakes, I pull out all the other recipes of things I’m thinking about baking and I just go ahead and measure and sift (I always sift) the dry ingredients and put them in labeled zip-top bags. Simple enough.

My mom did this at the holidays because her banana nut bread was a gift to her close friends and she made an assembly line of it, but that works for any baked thing really. At some point, once you have flour on the counter, it doesn’t really matter, does it?