Lemon Chicken Soup

Lemon Chicken Soup / Especially Edible

Cold and flu season is almost over. (Which means allergy season is almost here . . . That’s me, the resident pessimist.) Chicken soup should be on its way out, replaced by lemon bars and bunny-shaped Easter cakes. But for a friend of mine, who has chronic bronchitis, it is perpetually chicken soup season. And this recipe is too good to wait another year to share.

Lemon Chicken Soup / Especially Edible

I’ve made it multiple times for people who are under the weather, and it turns out every time. Because I’ve made more than a handful of changes to the original recipe, I’m also ridiculously proud of my “own” version. I’m no recipe developer, and I don’t know enough about the science of baking to invent a new cookie without relying on someone else for the flour-to-sugar-to-baking-soda ratio. Savory dishes are a bit easier to adjust ; for one thing, you don’t have to worry about something turning out as flat as a pancake or as dense as a hockey puck. Of all savory dishes, soup is probably the most forgiving. Judging by my success with all the modifications, this recipe certainly proved to be.

Lemon Chicken Soup / Especially Edible

Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 cup mushrooms, diced

1 medium parsnip, peeled and diced

1 3/4 cup egg noodles

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1 sprig rosemary

5 cups chicken stock

1 cup water

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

Boil chicken breasts for 20 minutes, then shred or cut into bite-sized pieces.

Heat olive oil in a large pot and add garlic, onion, carrots, celery, parsnip, and mushrooms. Cook for 6-7 minutes or until tender. Add thyme and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Pour in chicken stock, water, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Stir in egg noodles and rosemary and simmer for 7 minutes or until pasta is done. Add lemon juice and zest and garnish with parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from foodiecrush via Damn Delicious .

http://www.especiallyedible.com/classic-chicken-soup/

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Irish Soda Bread Muffins / Especially Edible

I am not Irish. Not even one-sixteenth. My hair is extremely red but extremely fake, and the closest my ancestors ever came to Eire was Sweden. So it seems fitting that my St. Patrick’s Day dish is not particularly faithful to traditional Irish soda bread. I’ve made authentic soda bread before, with little more than flour and buttermilk, but that was pre-Especially Edible. And in the world of food blogs, a lack of photographs mean it may as well have never happened. So all I have to offer is what we’ll call an “adaptation” of the old Irish recipe: Muffins instead of a round loaf, raisins instead of currants, no caraway seeds at all, an egg that sort of came out of nowhere. I like to think the heart of soda bread – using baking soda as a leavener rather than yeast – is what really matters. And in that regard, at least, my muffins are authentic, though they do have a dash of baking powder in addition to the traditional baking soda. (I should note here that I spent five minutes on Wikipedia trying to figure out if it was baking soda or baking powder before realizing that it’s called . . . soda bread. Hey, I never claimed to be an Einstein.)

Irish Soda Bread Muffins / Especially Edible

Next year I’d like to try something more adventurous – Guinness cupcakes with Bailey’s frosting, maybe. (And in fact I do have some photographs of Guinness brownies waiting in the wings for you.) I’ve watched enough episodes of “Cupcake Wars” to know you can’t just smear frosting on top of a muffin anymore. It has to be piped, pretty, and swirly, even if it’s just for some two-year-old’s birthday party that he’ll never even remember. I’m looking forward to a cupcake decorating class at Joann next month, at which they’ll probably successfully pitch me a set of Wilton decorating tips.

My soda bread muffins look very humble next to some of the ridiculous cupcake creations on Food Network. But they tasted good, they took approximately ten minutes to make – cut the butter into the dry ingredients in a food processor, then dump in the buttermilk – and they’re at least a little Irish.

Irish Soda Bread Muffins / Especially Edible

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

2 cups flour

3 Tbs. granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 cup butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

1 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

1 cup raisins

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg until blended.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together to mix them. Combine with the cold butter until it is evenly and finely crumbled into the dry ingredients. Dump the mixture into a large bowl.

Stir in buttermilk mixture, then fold in raisins.

Spoon batter into a muffin tin misted with cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool in tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Recipe Girl

http://www.especiallyedible.com/irish-soda-bread-muffins/

Mixed-Berry Pie for Pi Day

Mixed-Berry Pie / Especially Edible

Thanks to Pi Day, everyone in the food blogosphere gets an update on their elementary-school math: Pi, the the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, is always the same number, approximately 3.14. An irrational number used to find the area of a circle, its digits go on forever, but the next two are 15, making this year’s Pi Day – 3/14/15 – even more special than any other year’s March 14.

What do food bloggers do for Pi Day? Make pies, of course. Shepherd’s pie, pumpkin pie, pizza pie – it’s all fair game. I decided to go with a traditional fruit pie. No ground-breaking interpretations of pie here.

Mixed-Berry Pie / Especially Edible

Since I missed the last holiday I celebrated on my blog – National Banana Bread Day – by about a mile, I’m going to make this post short and sweet. I made my first pie of the year, a mixed berry recipe from Food Network, for my grandparents, who were visiting from South Dakota. The crust was a trusty Martha Stewart recipe that, I should note, is the only Martha Stewart recipe besides her apple-cheddar dog treats that has turned out well. (I love Martha Stewart – and I think most of her haters are just uncomfortable with a woman so unapologetically in power – but her website’s cookies tend to spread like pancakes and her macaroni and cheese to congeal in a puddle of grease.) I’d never made a lattice-top pie before, but thanks to the wonders of step-by-step guides on the Internet, it actually turned out pretty well. And the process wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d anticipated – about as easy as weaving those paper placemats kids make alongside memorizing the value of pi.

Mixed-Berry Pie / Especially Edible

As cool as Pi Day is, I’m enough of a nerd to remember celebrating Mole Day – October 23, or 10/23 – in high school chemistry class. Mrs. Hogfoss, an institution at my Catholic school who probably taught some of my classmates’ parents, drilled Avogadro’s Constant – roughly 6.022 x 1023 – into our heads. For the sake of brevity, let’s just say it’s the number of particles (say, atoms or molecules) contained in one mole, a unit of measurement based on the number of atoms in 12 grams of pure carbon-12, the isotope of carbon with an atomic mass of 12. (Are your eyes still open? Good.) Chemistry and math geeks will probably point out a dozen – a baker’s dozen, for the sake of irony – in that definition, but it’s as good as the combination of my memories from high school and a little help from Wikipedia gets. At any rate, Mrs. Hogfoss celebrated October 23 by marching into the chemistry lab with a stuffed mole (actually a stuffed Oregon State University beaver with its tail lopped off) wearing a red cape with Avogadro’s number emblazoned on the back.

I would much rather celebrate Mole Day than Pi Day – it’s a lot more unique, for one, and I’ve never tried to make Mexican mole sauce. (OK, so the pronunciation is different . . . so sue me.) That, however, will have to wait until this fall. For now, pie is on the menu. Enjoy.

Mixed-Berry Pie / Especially Edible

Mixed-Berry Pie

Ingredients

For the Crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

1 cup cold unsalted butter, diced

1/4-1/2 cup ice water

For the Pie

2 cups blueberries

2 cups raspberries

2 cups strawberries

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 Tbs. butter

Instructions

For the Crust

Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. While the processor is running, slowly add the ice water through the feed tube until the dough comes together.

Remove dough from the food processor and divide in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the Pie

Preheat the oven to 350.

Roll one half of the chilled dough into a 9-inch circle and slide onto a pie plate, trimming the edges and folding them under. Crimp the edges by pinching the dough between your thumb and index finger.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and cinnamon.

Mix the berries together and sprinkle with the flour mixture, stirring the fruit or turning it with your hands until all the pieces are coated.

Mound the berries into the pie crust.

Roll out the second half of the chilled dough into a 9-inch circle and cut into strips approximately 3/4-inch wide. Weave your lattice-top (see this excellent guide from Simply Recipes for better instructions than I could ever write). Press the ends of the strips into the edges of the crust, then brush the top with melted butter or an egg whisked with 1 Tbs. water.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool. The pie will set as it cools; if you can resist digging in right away, you'll get a much firmer and less liquidy pie than the one in my photos.

Pie recipe adapted from Food Network . Crust recipe from Martha Stewart .

http://www.especiallyedible.com/847/

Banana Bread . . . and Dog Treats?

Dog Treats / Especially Edible

I am a holiday person. I start buying Christmas presents in January. At my last job, I spent more time decorating my cubicle – twinkling lights, heart garlands, shamrocks – than I did actually working. (Which is probably why it was my last job.) So when I miss a holiday, even one of the fake holidays – and I’m talking super-fake here, not just Hallmark fake – I’m pretty bummed out. Did you know, for example, that February 23 was National Banana Bread Day as well as National Dog Biscuit Day? For real. There’s a site called Punchbowl that will send you an e-mail each morning to keep you abreast of such important dates. For equal-opportunity holiday freaks like myself, however, it would be better to get a heads-up the day before so that we know what to celebrate. I had all of February to throw a Lays-and-hash-browns party for National Potato Lover’s Month (which really should have the apostrophe after the S, don’t you think?), but with the glacial speed at which I put a blog post together, one day is just not enough time to write an ode to both banana bread and dog treats.

Grandma's Banana Bread / Especially Edible

The thing was, I almost made the deadline. In my ever-growing file of stuff to post, I have not one but two banana bread recipes, two variations on banana muffins, and some photographs of banana chocolate chip cookies that I took way back when I thought slapping a cookie on a plate under the kitchen lights was the way to make food look delicious. Despite my not owning a dog, the week of the 23rd also happened to mark my first foray into pet treats. But after my Monday night volunteer gig and an hour of wrestling with my iPhone to get my still-marginal pictures onto my computer, I finally admitted that any blog post on banana bread and dog biscuits was not going to happen by midnight. And since it wasn’t going to be time-stamped 2/23 anyway, I decided to shove the entire thing and watch a 2005 rerun of America’s Next Top Model instead.

Grandma's Banana Bread / Especially Edible

Now that you know about my sub-par work ethic, you can probably work out what happened next, and why I’m celebrating banana bread and dog treats (ooh, don’t banana bread dog treats sound promising?) on the 3rd of March instead of the 23rd or 24th of February. Each recipe really deserves a post of its own, especially my grandmother’s banana bread, but the gods at Punchbowl – or more likely the people at the Banana Growers Board and PetSmart/Petco lobby – decided to celebrate a quick bread and a doggie delicacy on the same day. (Unfortunately, the gods at Recipe Ziplist decided that I couldn’t put more than one recipe in a post. So you’ll have to follow the links for the dog treats.)

Dog Treats / Especially Edible

My grandmother’s recipe for banana bread reminds me a lot of her mother’s recipe for fruitcake. Compared to today’s recipes, it’s bare-bones: sugar, flour, bananas, and not a whole lot more. By contrast, the caramelized banana bread I made last month called for all that plus dark brown sugar, buttermilk, and rum. But when the simple, brown-flecked loaf made from my grandmother’s recipe emerged from the oven, I wondered why I’d bothered standing over the stove and sauteeing the bananas for the circa-2012 recipe. (Not that it was bad. In fact, I might even get around to posting it sometime in the next three years.) When did recipes get so complicated? It now seems like a badge of honor to use six different types of flour (all gluten-free, natch), chill dough for an entire day (hello, NYT chocolate chip cookies), and eschew butter or vegetable oil for fancy, faddy ingredients like coconut oil. I personally like complicated recipes. If I can get in and out of the kitchen in under half an hour, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much. But that certainly doesn’t mean those recipes taste better. My official testers, my mother and father (who, now that I think about it, really didn’t have a choice but to prefer his mom’s recipe), ate up Grandma Keizer’s banana bread faster than they’ve devoured any other quick bread.

Grandma's Banana Bread / Especially Edible

As for the second half of the celebration, what was someone who’s never owned a dog doing making treats for canines? A friend of my father’s has a beloved, crazily smart dog who’s sick. (This dog is definitely a who, not a that.) The dog’s name is Zoe and she lives in Maine, officially on the opposite side of the country. But that’s why the postal system invented priority mail. That’s also why Amazon carries more types of bone-shaped cookie cutters than there are breeds of dogs.

I don’t know what dogs like. But Beggin’ Strips ads (baconbaconbaconbacon!) and the old-school “Got Milk” campaign have taught me that dogs go crazy for peanut butter and bacon. I found a recipe on the Food Network website – who knew that Giada De Laurentis baked for pets as well? – for peanut butter dog treats to which I could easily add some crumbled bacon. The other recipe, this one from Martha Stewart, whose Chow Chow actually won “best in breed” at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2012, had ingredients that were a bit more unusual: cheddar and applesauce. But who doesn’t like cheese?!

Making dog treats was definitely a crapshoot. At least with cookies, I can enlist one of my parents for a taste-test before subjecting other people to my recipes. But they weren’t about to try doggie biscuits – though I thought the bacon and peanut butter might tempt my dad. So I swathed them in bubble wrap and sent them on their way to Maine.

Dog Treats / Especially Edible Well, Zoe loved them. Her owner sent along some great clips of Zoe shaking “hands” to earn a treat. If the whole food blog thing doesn’t pan out, it’s comforting to know that I can always hawk my dog biscuits at a card table outside PetSmart.

I may officially be a cat person, but there’s something about a dog’s joie de vivre that’s irresistible. They’re such happy animals, and they wear their emotions on their metaphorical sleeves. Cats are just a bit more aloof. No matter how overjoyed they are at the sound of the can opener, they don’t smile the way dogs seem to. Dogs are so enthusiastic that they leave paw prints on your T-shirt. Cats, on the other hand, like to maintain their dignity. This photo of Zoe sums up everything that makes dog’s a man’s (or a woman’s) best friend.

Zoe Beach Run

So mark your calendars for February 23, 2016. That’s probably the next time you’ll see banana bread and dog biscuits in the same sentence.

Grandma's Banana Bread

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

5 Tbs. buttermilk

3 bananas, mashed

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325. Mist a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, then stir in the baking soda-buttermilk mixture.

Add flour and salt and mix until combined. Fold in mashed bananas.

Bake for 1 hour. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

http://www.especiallyedible.com/banana-bread-and-dog-treats/

 

Apple-Cheddar Dog Treats

Apple-Cheddar Dog Treats

Want the recipe for Zoe’s dog treats? Voila.

Apple-Cheddar Dog Treats

Ingredients

2 cups wheat flour

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, and more as needed

2 Tbs. olive oil

3 Tbs. water

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients to form a dough. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly, add applesauce until it comes together.

Roll out dough into a disc 1/4 inch thick. Use a bone-shaped cookie cutter to cut out treats.

Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 30 minutes, until firm and lightly browned. Turn out treats onto a wire rack.

Turn off oven and place wire rack of treats in the oven overnight. Treats will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

http://www.especiallyedible.com/apple-cheddar-dog-treats/

Peanut Butter Bacon Dog Treats

Peanut Butter Bacon Dog Treats / Especially Edible

Looking for the dog biscuit recipe from this post? Here you go.

Peanut Butter Bacon Dog Treats

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2-3 strips bacon, cooked and minced

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, oats, and baking powder.

Microwave the peanut butter in short bursts until soft but not runny. Stir the peanut butter, broth, and bits of bacon into the dry ingredients until a crumbly dough forms.

Roll the dough into a ball and knead briefly, until smooth. Roll out into a 10-inch circle, about 1/2 inch thick. Use a bone-shaped cookie cutter to cut cookies.

Place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake 25 minutes, or until light brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Treats will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Recipe adapted slightly from Food Network's Giada de Laurentis

http://www.especiallyedible.com/peanut-butter-bacon-dog-treats/

Valentine’s Day Shortbread Hearts

Valentine's Day Shortbread / Especially Edible

Oh, Valentine’s Day. I had such good intentions. I even broke out the heart-shaped cookie cutters, which – if you know anything about my relationship to dough that requires chilling or rolling out – says something right there. But then I stumbled across the obituary of the Nutella scion in the Times, and – squirrel! – I got distracted. But I posted that on the 13th, so I really have no excuse for not producing anything on Valentine’s Day itself, except to say that I am a procrastinator. And that the degeneration of what was meant to be my first semi-original recipe, miniature red velvet cakes with cream cheese filling and chocolate ganache icing, from scarlet hearts into brown lumps didn’t help my motivation any.

Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

The only really original bit, for what it’s worth, was putting the cream cheese on the inside rather than on the outside, and planning to drizzle a cream cheese glaze on top of the ganache. I should have trusted my instincts on choosing a recipe for the filling, which turned out far too thin to hold up between the layers  of cake, and I scrapped the drizzle altogether when I realized it would be too transparent to stand out against the ganache. I did succeed at slicing the heart-shaped cakes into two layers, however, something that I think was greatly helped by popping them in the fridge for a few hours after they cooled. And though the ganache had to be thinned out by some milk, it eventually covered the cakes so smoothly and glossily that it looked like I’d sent them through one of those industrial enrobing machines at the Hershey’s factory.

Red Velvet Cakes1 Red Velvet Cakes6 Red Velvet Cakes7 Red Velvet Cakes2

But enough bellyaching. A year ago, I wouldn’t have even been brave enough to attempt a multi-stage dessert, especially on the same day that I made a chicken-pasta casserole that turned out quite nicely, thank you, and looked gorgeous against the new black background fabric I found for $5.00 at Joann. (I would love to figure out how to blur the background in photos so that the food stands out without a plain backdrop, but I have a feeling that might be asking a lot of my iPhone camera….. Though I’ve seen other bloggers work wonders with it, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to blame the technology instead of the user.)

Valentine's Day Shortbread / Especially Edible

But enough bellyaching. A year ago, I wouldn’t have even been brave enough to attempt a multi-stage dessert, especially on the same day that I made a chicken-pasta casserole that turned out quite nicely, thank you, and looked gorgeous against the new black background fabric I found for $5.00 at Joann. (I would love to figure out how to blur the background in photos so that the food stands out without a plain backdrop, but I have a feeling that might be asking a lot of my iPhone camera….. Though I’ve seen other bloggers work wonders with it, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to blame the technology instead of the user.)

Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

What DID turn out on my Valentine’s Day? Not romance – I’ve sort of given up hope for that one. (Are you getting a self-pitying vibe? Usually, post-Feb-14th, I aim for a more archly sarcastic singleton tone.) Well, the aforementioned heart-shaped cookies were a hit at my volunteer gig. After splurging on the red gel food dye from Amazon that the blogosphere recommended as the best chance for getting my red velvet cake truly red, I dipped some yummy shortbread in some brightly tinted white chocolate and came up with a winner. Though something went briefly wrong with the melted white chocolate – I may have been better off with another ganache recipe or with those white blocks used in candy making, because it seized up when I stirred in the dye and only thinned out when I splashed in some milk – everything turned out well in the end.

Valetine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

Whew. Are you exhausted by all the nuts and bolts of my baking adventures yet? Thank goodness for the scroll bar – I imagine most of you are past the recipe at this point. Which, now that I’ve mentioned it, is right here.

Valentine’s Day Shortbread Hearts

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 20 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 oz. white chocolate, chopped

Red gel food coloring

Instructions

In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until smooth again. Beat in vanilla, then fold in flour. Mix until just blended.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.

Flour a baking mat or the counter. Roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

After cookies have cooled, melt white chocolate in the microwave in thirty-second increments. Mix in a few squirts of gel food dye, adding more until the chocolate reaches the desired color. Stir until smooth, then dip the cookies into the chocolate. Place on a wire rack until the chocolate sets.

Recipe from Brunch Time Baker

http://www.especiallyedible.com/valentines-day-shortbread-hearts/

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies . . . and a farewell

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies / Especially Edible

Don’t worry. I didn’t forget about Valentine’s Day. And I didn’t purposely ignore it, the way single women in books and movies drown their sorrows in red wine and chocolate on the Day of Love. I have two perfect Valentine’s Day recipes – shortbread hearts and miniature red velvet cakes – queued up. But then I clicked over to the New York Times site and saw that Michele Ferrero, the scion of the candy company responsible for Nutella, had died. To be honest, I’d never thought about who created Nutella. (It was, FYI, Michele’s father, Pietro, who launched the product during World War II.) And I had no idea it was manufactured by the same people behind those fancy Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies / Especially Edible

I only have one Nutella recipe on the blog, but after spending the evening in the kitchen wrestling with what thought would be cute little red velvet hearts (reality: deformed little red velvet lumps), I didn’t have the energy to pull out a recipe from my giant stack of print-outs and whip up a batch of Nutella-swirled brownies or Nutella-stuffed cookies.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies / Especially Edible

Back at my computer, however, I stumbled across a folder full of pics of the chocolate-chip hazelnut cookies I’d made at the beginning of February and promptly forgot all about. I had intended the recipes for a post about my home state, Oregon, which is a major producer of hazelnuts (or filberts, as we call them). The only thing more Oregonian than a hazelnut cookie would be a hazelnut cookie with salmon icing and marijuana sprinkles. (Kidding. Just kidding. But ew.) Hazelnuts, of course, happen to be the key ingredient in Ferrero’s famous spread. And it just so happens that they’re now available in pre-chopped, ready-to-bake packages, just like pecans and walnuts have been for ages. There is nothing worse than trying to remove the skins from hazelnuts. Don’t believe what you hear about rolling boiled unts in a kitchen towel. Best case scenario, you’re left with a pile of hazelnuts with scraps of skin still stubbornly clinging to them. (I learned this the hard way in high school, while trying to make a mixed-berry pie that called for a hazelnut crust. If you can expertly strip hazelnuts of their skins without batting an eye, good for you. You’re also probably the sort of witch who can peel oranges in one long, curling strand or skin peaches in two seconds after dropping them in boiling water.) At any rate, when I saw a half-cup bag of Diamond hazelnuts at the grocery store, I knew my lazy self had to make something with these beauties. Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies / Especially Edible

As quick as I was to grab the hazelnuts, I came late to the Nutella Internet craze; in fact, I started baking with it about the time that the food blogosphere moved on to Biscoff cookie butter. This time, however, I can be right on time with a tribute to Ferrero, who the Times describes as “the world’s richest candymaker” (his family was ranked 30th on the 2014 Forbes list of the planet’s richest billionaires). In fact, I’ve started thinking of hazelnuts as baby jars of Nutella. After all, behind every jar of Nutella is a twisted, funky-looking filbert tree.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies / Especially Edible

So here’s to enjoying hazelnut cookies. And here’s to the even greater enjoyment you’ll get from scooping a spoonful of Nutella straight out of the jar and into your mouth.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 24 small cookies

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

6 Tbs. butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

2/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.

Spread oats on a cookie sheet and toast for 5 minutes, or until golden. Do the same with the hazelnuts, toasting for about 7 minutes or until brown and fragrant.

In a small bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, then fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and flatten with the palm of your hand (they will not spread much while baking). Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute on cookie sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light via Tutti Dolci

http://www.especiallyedible.com/chocolate-chip-hazelnut-cookies-and-a-farewell/

Carrot Cake Two Ways

Carrot cake two ways.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

One of the benefits of writing a blog that no one reads (yet!) is that you can post pretty much whatever you want and no one will be the wiser. Don’t have a great, chatty story behind a recipe? Make one up. I haven’t done that yet, FYI, but I was tempted with this carrot cake recipe. I’ve made it twice, once in a Bundt pan and once as a layer cake. The latter, being destined for a birthday party, looked like a white lump on the table. It’s hard to photograph a cake when you can’t take a slice out of it. Luckily for me, I’d made the same recipe in a Bundt pan a few months ago, and had never got around to posting it.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

The other lucky thing? That cute anecdote I was worried I wouldn’t have – pshaw. No problem. The layer cake was made for my friend Ellen’s 81st birthday. She’s someone about whom you can say “81 years young” without rolling your eyes. In fact, we stuck the numbers on the cake backwards and celebrated her sixty-third 18th birthday instead. I’m pretty sure her schedule is about twice as crazy as mine. I love her entire family – they’ve basically adopted me – and I inflict my baking experiments on her daughter every week when we get together to mine for gems at the local St. Vinnie’s. (For the record, she’s much better at it than I am. I find broken plates; she finds Ming vases.)

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible Gigi – Ellen’s daughter – bought her a new CD player and wrapped up a CD of relaxing meditation music, which pretty much sums up Ellen’s life. We’re all tugging at her to slow down and take a break, but she has paintings to finish and art lessons to give to kids. She drives a cerulean-blue hatchback with “Department of Peace” stickers on the back and wears “Ban the Bag” and “End Discrimination” pins on her purple jacket. She’s the kind of person the Red Hat Society – the group of older ladies that takes its cue from the Jenny Joseph poem that vows, in part, that “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple / With a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me” – would love to get its paws on. Trouble is, she doesn’t stand still for long enough for anyone to grab ahold.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

I’m fully convinced that, in ten years, I’ll be making a cake – maybe chocolate, this time – for Ellen’s 91st birthday. I’ll be pushing 40, and I’m quite sure that I’m the only one who will feel old.

Carrot Cake| Especially Edible

Carrot Cake Two Ways

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 cake

Ingredients

For the Cake

1 lb. carrots, finely grated (about 3 cups)

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 cups canola oil

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cloves

For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

16 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3-4 cups powdered sugar

salt to taste

For the Cream Cheese Glaze (if you're making a bundt cake)

6 oz. cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3-6 Tbs. milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

salt, to taste

cinnamon, to taste

For the Garnish

shredded coconut, toasted

1/2 cup pecans, toasted

Instructions

For the Cake

Preheat oven to 350. Trace the bottoms of two 9-inch round pans onto parchment paper, then use the paper to line the bottoms of the pans. (If using a Bundt pan, grease and flour the pan.)

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set

In a large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Fold in carrots. (Instead of grating, use a food processor - it cuts down on the required elbow grease and sore shoulders.)

Stir dry ingredients into wet until well combined.

Pour half the batter into one cake pan and half into the other. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for ten minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn out onto wire racks. (If making a Bundt cake, pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 50-65 minutes.) Wait for cakes to cool entirely before frosting and stacking. (Or drizzling the glaze on top.)

For the Frosting

Heat butter in a small saucepan until browned, about five minutes. Don't let the butter burn - when it's ready, you will see tiny dots of brown at the bottom and the aroma will be strong and nutty. Cool for fifteen minutes in the refrigerator.

After butter cools, cream together browned butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and salt until smooth. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, sifting each as it goes in to eliminate lumps, Mix well after each addition, and taste the frosting after 3 cups to gauge its sweetness.

To Assemble

If necessary, level the tops of the cakes with a knife to make their tops flat. Place the bottom layer upside down on a plate or cake stand. Frost the top of the first layer, then add the second, icing the top and the sides with a thin coating of frosting.

If you have the time (and patience), let the cake chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. This will make it less crumbly and easier to frost with a thick layer of cream cheese / buttercream frosting. Use a knife or an offset spatula to ice the cake. With the spatula or the back of a large spoon, swirl the frosting on the top for a decorative effect. Garnish with toasted coconut and pecans.

If you are making a Bundt cake, soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 20 seconds. (Make sure not to do this in the foil wrapping . . . I found out the hard way that this creates sparks.) Whisk until smooth, then sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese. Add the salt, vanilla, and cinnamon, and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the glaze is thin enough to pour but thick enough to adhere to the sides of the cake. Pour over the Bundt cake and allow glaze to drizzle down the sides. Garnish with toasted coconut and pecans.

http://www.especiallyedible.com/carrot-cake-two-ways/

Quince Quick Bread

Quince Quick Bread | Especially Edible

Have you ever eaten quince? Until very recently, I hadn’t. I had a vague notion of a quince as some sort of large fig that went into holiday pies . . . . but that was more a conflation of “quince” and “mince” than anything else. It turns out that quince is a staple of cheese platters – the local natural foods store sells blocks of quince paste in little plastic containers alongside the Stilton and Camembert – and is indeed used in pies, though not necessarily for the holidays. I got my first taste of quince from a friend who has her own quince tree and gave me a tiny can of the paste she’d made. (Appropriately, very thick quince paste is called “quince cheese.”) The fruit, which turns up in stores starting in October, looks like an acne-prone pear. It’s lumpy, bright yellow, and hard as a rock; this is not something you can eat raw, and for that reason, it’s something of a forgotten delicacy in the U.S. When cooked, the fruit softens and its acidic flavor mellows into something sweeter. It’s known for turning a rosy pink color when poached, when the tannins in its flesh release a red pigment called anthocyanin. (Fine Cooking helpfully explains the chemistry of quince, which sounds a bit like trees changing colors, here. FYI, cooking the quince in an aluminum pot, which reacts to tannic acid, deepens the pink color. Good to know, since my quince – ooh, a rhyme! – only turned a pale peach.)

Quince Quick Bread | Especially Edible

I’m not big on cheese platters, so what was I planning to do with the quince? Bread. There were some gorgeous recipes for tarts and pies online – upside-down quince and honey spice cake – but I wanted something that I could bring to Kathie, the friend who introduced me to quince, for Christmas. So quick bread it was. Try to find a quince quick bread recipe, however, and even Google comes up empty-handed. (Well, almost empty-handed. Weirdcombinations.com does have a recipe for an almond-quince cake.) Since I was going to be poaching and mashing the quince into a paste anyway, I decided that tweaking a recipe for applesauce bread – of which the Internet has plenty – was the way to go.

Quince Quick Bread | Especially Edible

Did it turn out? Yes and no. My mother thought it tasted “funny,” but Kathie liked it. And since that was the point, and because quince is supposedly something of an acquired taste, I called this recipe a success. The only thing that would have made it better would have been electric pink quince, which might have yielded pale pink bread. I’ve never been a fan of oddly colored breads or cakes – what exactly does that tablespoon of red food coloring add to red velvet cake except a fake-y element? – but this could have been an exception. Maybe next time.

Quince Quick Bread | Especially Edible

Quince Quick Bread

Prep Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients

For the Quince Puree

2 pounds quince (about 3 large)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

Large strip of lemon or orange peel

3 Star anise

1 whole cinnamon stick

For the Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 1/4 cups quince puree

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/2 plain yogurt

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

3 Tbs. rolled oats

Instructions

For the Quince Puree

Peel quince with a vegetable peeler. Cut off four sides, avoiding the core.

Mix four cups water, sugar, honey, citrus peel, anise, and cinnamon in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil and slip the quince into the liquid.

Partially cover the suacepan with its lid. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40-50 minutes. Quince will be tender and will turn color, ranging from a pale yellow to a bright pink.

Drain liquid from saucepan and allow quince to cool. Mash with a potato masher or puree in a food processor.

Recipe from The Kitchn

For the Bread

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat together oil, egg, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and quince puree.

Mix dry ingredients into wet until just moistened. Spoon batter into a 9x5 loaf pan misted with cooking spray. Sprinkle rolled oats on the top.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center is removed without crumbs.

Let cool for 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking

http://www.especiallyedible.com/746/