Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cranberry Sauce

This is an adaptation of a recipe I got from the November 1997 LA Times Food Section, back when we lived in the Land of the Forever Sun. It's really good, but I, I have made it better.

Combine the following ingredients in a saucepan:

1 & 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
12 whole cloves
4 whole allspice
4 pieces of cinnamon sticks
a goodly chunk of ginger
4-9 star anise

Edited to add: put the spices (save the cinnamon) in a tea caddy thingie if you have one. It will save you having to fish them out later. Trust me, they tend to disappear amongst the cranberries.

Cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear. I like to leave it at this point and let the whole mixture sit for 20 minutes, so the spices can really go to town. Then fire up the heat underneath the pot and add a package of cranberries. When they are popping wildly (about 5 minutes later), turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for ages. But before you do that add in the grated rind of at least 3 oranges.

And that's all you do. People will swoon and tell you it's the best thing you've ever made. Well, unless they are amongst those godless heathen who favour the canned variety, in which case you must feel free to ignore them and know that your tastebuds ARE superior.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cinnamon Pumpkin Buns


3 cups milk
6 T butter
6 T sugar

1 tsp sugar
2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water

2 eggs
9 cups white flour, more or less


3/4 cup melted butter
1 & 1/4 cups sugar
3 T cinnamon

For rolls: Scald milk. Turn off heat, add butter and 6 T sugar. Let cool somewhat.

In a small bowl, dissolve 1 tsp sugar in lukewarm water, then sprinkle yeast over top. Cover. Let sit till foamy.

Combine water/yeast mixture with milk mixture. Add 2 eggs. Add 4 or 5 cups white flour (you can use whole wheat but the texture gets a little heavy) and beat well for 10 minutes. Then let sit for 10 minutes. Then add enough flour to make the dough soft but not sticky (4 more cups, more or less).

Knead on a well-floured surface for 8-10 minutes. Keep in mind that this dough will remain quite soft. Pop it into a greased bowl, cover with a cloth, and put it somewhere warm for an hour or so, until it has significantly increased in size.

To fill: Punch down, divide in half. Roll one half into a largish rectangle. Brush with some of the melted butter, then mix the cinnamon and the sugar and sprinkle almost half over top. Roll up gently, like a jelly roll, then slice into 2 inch slices. Line a baking tin with a sheet of parchment paper, since these can stick, then drizzle some of the butter on the bottom. Place the slices and cover, then place again in a warm, undisturbed area until they have risen and are doubled in size. If you have some leftover cinnamon sugar now's the time to sprinkle some more over top.

Bake 350ºF for about 1/2 hour.

Pumpkin Addition:

I had baked an entire pumpkin, then put the flesh into the food processor until smooth, so I took a couple of cups of this and spread it over the rolled out rectangle, then sprinkled the cinnamon sugar over top. It's a bit goopy, but easily done if you have a steady hand.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Marbled Peanut Brownies

This is such a terrible photo that I'm only going to include a tiny glimpse of it, but it's such a great brownie that I'm still going to give you the recipe.

Marbled Peanut Brownies

1 c. butter
11 oz. semi sweet chocolate chopped into smallish chunks
1 1/3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 c. sugar
6 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a bowl over simmering hot water, melt butter and chocolate. Add sugar, stir well. Beat in eggs one and a time, then add vanilla. Mix up flour and baking powder and add that as well.

Peanut Butter batter:
1/2 c. melted unsalted butter
1 c. icing sugar
1 1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 tsp. salt (don't forget this - it adds a really amazing taste sensation)
more vanilla extract

Stir everything together in a separate bowl.

Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie tray, then pour a little over half the chocolate brownie batter on the parchment, spreading it out to the edges. Then get your peanut butter batter and drop teaspoonfuls all over, about an inch apart. Then drip what chocolate batter you have left over top of all this. It will look messy and sort of weird. Don't fret.

Then take a long knife-like object and pretend you are slicing this mixture from one end to the other, until you've 'cut' the peanut butter rather artistically (ie: nice swirls instead of globs) into the chocolate mixture.

Bake 325ºF for about 30 minutes. I kept putting the timer on for 10 minute intervals and checking it, but I prefer my baked goods slightly underdone (keeps them moist), so just keep a close eye on yours.

When this was slightly cooled I melted a few ounces of chocolate (again in a double boiler) and drizzled it over top of the brownie. Then I chilled it and sliced it up. I also kept ours in the fridge between bites - but it's hot here right now and things melt quick.

Lemon Verbena Sorbet

I've written before about this sorbet (see here), but consider this a reminder, because this really is one of the best tastes of summer around. Particularly if you have a lemon verbena plant.

It's easy to make, too.