Friday, March 29, 2013

Mandarin Orange Olive Oil Cake

Alison from Bit of Butter here with another guest post.  (This will be my last post, since my mom is returning from her travels on Tuesday.)  I wanted to share with you my new favorite dessert: it's quick, it's tasty, and it's a perfect way to use up those mandarin oranges languishing in your fruit basket!

Mandarin Orange Olive Oil Cake

Makes about 8 servings

Butter, for greasing the pan
1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest from 1 mandarin orange
Juice from 3 mandarin oranges
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10 inch baking pan.

Using your stand mixer, cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.

Drizzle the olive oil and vanilla and mix until smooth.

Add the mandarin juice and zest and mix until incorporated.

Sift together the remaining dry ingredients and slowly add them to the wet ingredients until just incorporated.

Pour into prepared bake pan and bake for 25 minutes.

Let cool for 25 minutes and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

I am participating in Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal with Toasted Almonds and Raisins

Alison here, from Bit of Butter.  My mom, Kathy, is out of the country for the next few weeks, so I'll be filling in with some yummy recipes that I've been making.  Don't worry, Kathy will be back soon!

Things have changed for my husband, Kevin, and I since we had our daughter last August.  We used to have leisurely Saturday mornings filled with crosswords and coffee.  We'd often make pancakes from scratch, squeeze orange juice, and stretch our mornings until at least noon.  Not anymore!  Now, the "19 pound alarm clock" wakes us up at 7am (or earlier) and we're off and running.  We're lucky we if can grab a coffee and a piece of toast before one of us is on watch while the baby reaches across the counter for whatever is near her pudgy fingers.  

Enter, the slow cooker!  We've been using ours for years, but we never thought to make breakfast with it.  This oatmeal was amazing.  Creamy, rich, and easy to make the night before.  By the time we woke up at 7, the house smelled warm and cozy.

Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal with Toasted Almonds and Raisins
adapted from The Yummy Life

Makes about 6 servings

1 cup steel-cut oats
2 cups apples, skinned and diced 
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp butter, cut into 4-5 small pieces
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup toasted almonds
1/4 cup raisins
Cooking spray

Liberally spray the insert of your slow cooker with cooking spray.  (We tried butter the first time we made this and it did NOT work.)  If you skip this step you'll probably want to go buy a new insert because it takes so much work to clean it you'll just want to throw it out.

Did you use the cooking spray?  Yes?  Good!  

Add all ingredients (except almonds and raisins) to the slow cooker and mix.  

Cook on low for approximately 7 hours.  

Serve in the morning, topped with raisins and toasted almonds)

You can toast the almonds the night before or wait until the morning.  We also served ours with a little milk and added salt to taste.  A perfect breakfast!

I am participating in On the Menu Monday, hosted by Yvonne at Stone Gable.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Creamy Mustard Sauce with Vermouth and Thyme

It is spring....that time of year when we look outside and have no idea what we are going to wear...will it be sunny..will it rain...will there be snow flurries, will the wind blow...or will there be a little of each?  Val at More Than Burnt Toast shared a quotation that just seems to fit...

"It was one of the March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: 
when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."

— Charles Dickens

Just the same, we are on the verge of lovely weather and spring...which means ham, baked beans, macaroni salad, pickled eggs and something with lemon and strawberries for dessert!

How about dressing up your Easter ham with a creamy mustard sauce combining some Dijon and whole-grain mustards with some vermouth and thyme my favorite spice?  

Mustard Sauce with Vermouth and Thyme
The New Best Recipe from the Editor's of Cook's Illustrated

Makes about 3 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 medium shallots, chopped fine
2 cups dry vermouth
1 Tbsp dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the broth and cornstarch together in a small bowl;  set aside.  Heat the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until foaming;  add the shallots and cook until  softened,  about 3 minutes.  Stir in the vermouth and brown sugar; increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until the alcohol vapors have cooked off,  about four minutes.  

Whisk the broth and cornstarch mixture to recombine, then gradually whisk it into the simmering liquid; return the sauce to a simmer to thicken, stirring occasionally.  Off the heat, whisk in the mustards and thyme; season with salt and pepper to taste.  (The sauce can be cooled to room temperature and refrigerated for up to two days.  Reheat in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.)  Serve with ham.

This has become my new favorite sauce to serve with ham!  The recipe makes enough sauce for an army so I cut the recipe in half and it worked just fine for us.

I am participating in Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

And remember enjoy spring...."Whatever the weather, the weather will be..."!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chocolate Cranberry and White Chocolate Meringue Torte


We enjoyed this dessert when our gourmet group met the first of the month.  I had forgotten my camera so the cell phone picture has to suffice....sorry.  I had promised some friends that I would post the recipe for this delicious torte and am finally doing it!

After reading you will ask, "What is Mauf Cream?"  Good question.   I think it is a type of whipping cream...I tried to look it up and what I found was an reference to an 1898 newspaper...or there was supposed to be mention of it in the newspaper...I searched and didn't find the reference..but I can say that it is easy to get distracted reading all the advertisements.  They were really funny.  So what is Mauf Cream?  I don't know but Smart and Final carries it!  Substituting regular whipped cream would be fine, too.

Chocolate Cranberry and 
White Chocolate Meringue Torte

6 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups white chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup Mauf Cream (Smart and Final)
Whipped cream

Whip 6 egg whites until stiff.  Add 1 cup of sugar slowly and beat for 5 minutes.  Set aside.

In a food processor, add rolled oats, and 1/2 cup walnuts.  Process until powder-like, and add dried cranberries.  Continue processing for about 1 minute.

Add meringue and 2 cups white chocolate chips.

Turn into greased springform pan and bake  at 350° F. for 45 minutes until set.  Let cool completely.

For frosting:
Combine 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips to 1 cup Mauf Cream.  Heat just until chips are melted.  Pour over cake while it is still in springform  pan and refrigerate.  To remove, run a sharp knife along the inside edge of pan.  Frost sides with whipped cream.


This was quite tasty!  I would love to credit the original source but the recipe came from our group's binder of recipes from years gone by...and it didn't have the original source listed.

I am  participating  in On the Menu Monday hosted by Yvonne at Stone Gable.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sweet Almond Pastry

I am trying something new this month....I am participating in a dessert challenge.  I am not certain who is going to eat the sweets but I am certain that I will find somebody who is willing...Mr. T?  Are you ready?

The Dessert Challenge is hosted by Lady Behind the Curtain.  It is a personal challenge and I have the option of playing along or taking a break...I like the flexibility.  I like baking something I have never tried.  I like eating all of it...oops, no, I will not eat all of it...somebody else will.

This months challenge was to make something that used almond paste and pastry.  The first thing that came to mind was the melt in your mouth Twice Baked Croissant at Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle.  It is heavenly...and I would so love to make some.  Not to eat, of course, but to share with others.

I saw them again in Lucerne, Switzerland.  It wasn't really a croissant more of almond rolled in pasty....who cares about the was delicious!  

So, I was on a quest...but I also wasn't certain if using already baked croissants was was, but I learned that after the, I decided to use puff pastry and I found a recipe that looked as though it just might work.  Of course the recipe was so easy that I was really skeptical...actually, it is embarrassingly easy...but what is wrong with simple  if it has a great taste?!!!  Nothing!!!

When Mr. T. took his first bite he closed his eyes and said, "I think I am in Bakery Nouveau."  What a nice thing to say...I know it was the way the pasty flaked and the yummy almond was close...

Sweet Almond Pastry
adapted from Pepperidge Farm

2 eggs
1 Tbsp water
6 oz almond paste
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 sheet of puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets), thawed per package directions
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Confectioner's sugar

Heat the oven to 400° F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using a fork, stir one egg and the water together.

Place the almond paste, granulated sugar, one egg and vanilla in a food processor.  Cover and process until the mixture is smooth.

Unfold the sheet of pastry on a lightly floured work surface.  Roll the pastry into a 12 X 10 rectangle.  Withe the short side facing you, spoon the almond mixture on the bottom half of the pastry to within one inch of the edges.  Cut several 2-3 inch long slits, about 1 inch apart,  on the plain side of the pastry.  Fold this side of the pastry over the filling and seal the edges with a fork.

Brush the pastry with the egg mixture.  Sprinkle with the almonds and place the filled pastry on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 375° F.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes to serve warm or let cool completely.  Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, if desired.


I enjoyed playing in the kitchen with the puff pastry.  I learned that follow the directions for thawing means just that...the first attempt turned into a ball of dough...I have since learned to read.

Next month is caramel and pretzels...I wonder what I will create....

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Guinness Applesauce Cake with Lemon Icing

Last year I discovered the sweet flavor that the yeast and hops in an Irish stout contribute to baking.  I have used beer many times in marinades and for flavoring hearty stews, but baking, as is pointed out by Margaret Johnson the author of The Irish Spirit, isn't usually on the radar.

We usually associate Guinness and chocolate this time of year...but when I was perusing Margaret's  cookbook and saw this Guinness Applesauce Cake, I knew it was coming to my kitchen soon!  The cake was super moist and so flavorful...this goes on the rotation....why would I have to wait for St. Patrick's Day to make it again!?

Guinness Applesauce Cake with Lemon Icing
adapted from The Irish Spirit

Serves 8 to 10

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Guinness
1/2 cup chopped golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Lemon Icing
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter, at room temperature
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon (I used about 3 tablespoons...adjust to your taste.)
1 confectioner's sugar (I increased this to 1 1/3 cup....adjust per your taste.)

Lemon slices and a sprinkling of zest for garnish.  (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease an 8 inch square pan and line it with parchment.  Then grease the parchment.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a larger bowl, stir together the applesauce, brown sugar, oil, and stout.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in the raisins, dates and walnuts.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Invert the pan onto a plate, remove the parchment paper, and set the cake upright to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine the butter and lemon zest.  Sift the confectioner's sugar into the butter and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Stir in enough lemon juice to make the icing soft enough to spread easily.  spread the icing on top of the cake and smooth the surface with an offset spatula.  Decorate with lemon slices and a bit of zest, if desired.


I am participating in Cuisine Kathleen's St. Patrick's Day blog crawl...I have been participating in Kathleen's blog crawl for four is so much fun.

Take a look at my other Irish posts.

Shepherd's Pie and Colcannon
Cottage Pie with Beef, Carrots and Party Potatoes  (Just...a little on the English side...)
Medieval Stew with Stout
Not Just Any Irish Soda Bread
Mrs. O'Callaghan's Irish Soda Bread
Corned Beef and Cabbage
Ganache-Filled Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting

I am also participating in Full  Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's County Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Vermont Cheddar Bread aka Easy Cheesy Bread

Yippee!  I found a wonderful cheesy bread to make..and I did make it....and it was super....the crust was...well, crusty and the crumb was soft and cheesy and springy and....just plain delicious!!

I have been using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day cookbook for a long time, but I have never made it to the middle and that is where this recipe is tucked away!  Of course, I didn't find it first....Katie at Betcha Can't Eat Just One pointed out an Easy Cheesy Bread and I just had to take a look.  Katie is my Secret Recipe Club partner this month.....and what a pleasure it has been....Katie has little ones and it has been a long time since I have done special things for little guys...her Elmo birthday party was fun and the sweets she has posted throughout her blog were oh, so tempting...but, I shall leave those for the little guys this time.

Bring on the bread....cheesy bread....slather on some butter....mmmmm...heaven....

Vermont Cheddar Bread

3 cups of lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbsp of granulated yeast (2 packages)
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar 
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I used a Vermont cheddar.)
Mix the first four ingredients in a large lidded (not air-tight) food container. Add the dry ingredients, flour and cheese.  
Mix by hand or wooden not knead...or use a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook making certain that all of the flour is incorporated.  You may need to wet your hand with water and mix the dough until there are no dry spots.  Remember that you’re not kneading, just mixing in all of the flour.
Cover with the lid (do not seal) and let rise on the counter for 2 hours or more…you want the dough to rise and fall so it’s flat on the top.  
At this point you can form your bread and bake or you can put the dough in the fridge for up to 7 days, using only as much as you need and saving the rest for later!
Forming and Baking
Dust the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 pound piece of dough (the size of a grapefruit)  You can really make this any size you want, you’ll just need to adjust your baking time accordingly.
Dust the piece with more flour, and shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating a quarter turn as you go.  
Place the loaf on a pizza peel that has been sprinkled with corn meal so it can easily be slid onto the baking stone in the hot oven.
Allow the bread to rest for 1 hour (or 40 minutes if you have not refrigerated the dough)  It may not rise very much during the resting period but will expand in the oven.
Twenty minutes prior to baking, set the oven at 450° F.   Have the baking stone on the lowest rack of the oven.  Put an empty pan or broiler tray on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the bread (you’re going to use it to create steam in the oven and give your bread a great crust)
Give the rested dough a liberal dusting of flour and use a serrated knife to make slashes across the top of the bread  about 1/4″ to a 1/2″ deep.
Slide the bread onto the hot baking stone.  Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the boiler tray or empty hot pan and quickly shut the oven door.  Your oven will not have gotten to temperature but that is okay.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until the crust is browned and the bread feels quite firm.  
Allow to cool before slicing or eating!  


The flavor was amazing...I am certain that the quality of the cheese plays a major part in the yummy!

I must admit that Katie is right...I wasn't able to stop with just one slice!
This is one cookbook that you really need to include in your library.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Parmesan-Crusted Crab Cake Bites

Every once in a while we need an appetizer that is special.  One that will rock your taste buds!  When I first saw this recipe on Mary's blog, Home is Where the Boat Is, I knew that it had the potential to do just that.

We love to go crabbing...Mr. T doesn't necessarily love cleaning it...but he does it...we love to eat, it is only fitting that he should be able to enjoy something special!!  I guarantee you that this recipe is one that you will repeat!

Parmesan-Crusted Crab Cake Bites
Mary at Home is Where the Boat Is

12 Servings
Hands-on time:  18 minutes
Total time:  48 minutes

6 oz fresh lump crabmeat
2 3-oz packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning, or similar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 1/4 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

Chive Aioli

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Generously grease 2 (12-cup) miniature muffin pans.  Pick crabmeat, removing any bits of shell.  Stir cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth.  Add 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and next 6 ingredients. stir until smooth.  Fold in crabmeat and parsley.

Combine remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and melted butter in a medium bowl, toss with fork until breadcrumbs are moistened.  

Spoon 1 Tbsp breadcrumb mixture into each muffin cup, press into bottom and up sides to form crust.  Spoon 1 Tbsp crab mixture into each crust.  

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool in pans 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the crab cakes to loosen.  Gently lift the cakes from the pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature topped with Chive Aioli.

Chive Aioli

Makes 1/2 cup.  Prepare up to a day in advance, cover and chill.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, pressed

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Cover and chill.

Simple, wasn't it?  Our guests couldn't get enough of them...It is hard to eat only one...or two...or three...or.....

I am sharing today at On the Menu Monday hosted by Yvonne at Stone Gable.