July 2009 Baker's Stash
Dear Bakers and Friends,
Welcome to the deep summer issue of BetterBaking.com. As you might know, if you sign up on Twitter to follow me, you will get updates on the free recipes that I post at the site, from time to time. If you don’t do Twitter, then just remember to check the front page of BB and find the free recipes. It’s by the baker’s whim but quite fun and an easy way to reach you all quickly and share freebies.
Of interest to bakers and newsy, there was also a recent New York Times piece on recalled chocolate chip cookie dough. Check out
Ah ha! Another reason to do it yourself. If you need frozen chocolate chip cookie dough – just make your own. It’s as easy to whip up extra dough as it is one batch. This is a great, serviceable and free recipe I want to share with you. I rarely make one batch of dough – I always quadruple the recipe, and have frozen dough, ready to dole out, whenever I need. It makes it easy to pop 8-10 cookies on a baking sheet, whenever I want. And so far, none of my doughs has ever suffered a recall.
This month’s blueberry pie recipe is a nod to a gym buddy/ fellow writer, whose wife is the genius behind PatsyPie gluten free biscotti. Mike and I talk a lot while on the treadmill. We chat about writing, writing deadlines, following dreams, finishing books and/or ignoring dreams. We talk about scribbling for pay checks and writing from the heart. Some of us are lucky and do both in one pen stroke. Mike is a superb contemporary short story (and sci-fi) writer who also heads an ad agency of his own. The other day, he turned reflective and among other incredible tales of his early family life, he told me how one summer, he took two months vacation, determined the write the stuff he always vowed he would. He locked himself up for 60 days and wrote nonstop and did indeed finish the novel he wanted to do (which he is now pitching). So, I commented, with commitment and diligence, and no excuses, it can be done.
Oh, he replied,with a broad smile, “Sure – it can be done. Because in the end, there is nothing copious cups of hot coffee and big, fat slices of blueberry pie won’t cure. At the least, it kept me at that desk, writing consistently.
I love that story. I love it because we writers (check out this month’s Oprah magazine to read more about writer’s on the subject of how they do what we do) love stories about the story of how we do our writing. Our greatest challenge is either blank page or not finishing (or not starting). It’s always something and usually one of those three things. But personally, I also love the idea of coffee and blueberry pie being incentive and inspiration. Seriously, how good does coffee and blueberry pie sound? It appeals to me in so many ways. I might not finish my novel this July and August but I can come at the least, be counted on for the hot coffee and blueberry pie. And that is what I bring to you this fine July day – fresh blueberry pie, coffee and summery dreams that just ask you give them the honor of your diligence and attention. It can be done. Meanwhile, there’s pie. How good is this pie? I had it for breakfast, lunch and supper and ate it slice by slice, from the pie tin, and tanked it down with Columbian Bokar coffee from A&P.
For summertime listening, I hope you check out www.DwayneBritton.com He is a singer that has that innate ability to tell a story as he sings, which is what great ballads are all about but more than that - there is that unmistakable essence of truth that comes out in his music - and it makes you stop and listen. Moreover, because of Dwayne, I dug out my favorite Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe. It’s his favorite. His rendition of Baker, Baker, a Tori Amos song, is now a favorite of mine. And if you need to feel moved to gentle tears by the sheer beauty of a singer who is simply transportive, please check out Nancy Lamott on Itunes. Ms. Lamott is no longer with us but her renditions of Ask Me Again, I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, and I Have Dreamed are gifts. Like Dwayne Britton, Ms. Lamott was one of those rare talents who tells a story in each song. Breathless stuff. Lamott was such a talent that left us too soon but she left a legacy of songs that are incomparable.
So on a blueberry pie rush, I wish you happy Canada Day, Happy July 4th, and wherever you are in the world, moments of celebration and quiet bliss that have no name – but are marked by arriving, and knowing you are there – when you are there. Speaking of which – while that second blueberry pie is cooling, I’ll be lost in the crowd at the free Stevie Wonder concert here, at the Montreal Jazz Fest. Think Little Stevie likes blueberry pie? I just might tote some along. They're forecasting a crowd of 100,000. With the passing of Michael Jackson, the music and artists that are still here are even more precious. I would attend the Stevie Wonder concert anyway – but I am doubly glad he’s in town this particular week. In fact, I'm Overjoyed.
Sweet times always,
Chewy Big Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies !!! FREE!!!
A huge motherlode of frozen dough to bake when you need it. All the wonderful taste of homemade with commercial convenience. You know you can always make it better yourself!
FREE!! The Splitter The Splitter for July 4th
Hot dog! Fried hotdogs! Who would make this? Anyone who’s had one before. Use the special technique for a hotdog that burst and blooms at the seams, offering a crisp exterior and hot, juicy interior. Add some ballpark mustard, a fresh poppy seed roll and you’ve got game. A super 4th of July snack.
Country Fresh Blueberry Pie with Butter Streusel
This is also known as Writer's Block Blueberry Pie. If you make one of these, brew a pot of coffee and sit down to finish your novel, chances are, you'll finish something. Odds are it's the pie but there's a good chance you might stay the course and finish both (pie and novel). This combination of fresh and frozen berries makes the best (kid-approved) pie. You may use all fresh berries if you prefer. This pie is totally country - with a real butter pie dough and a very thin sprinkle of steusel on top, which looks grand, taste swell, and bumps this pie up to the next level. A graniteware pie tin is best (check out hardware stores or camping stores) but ceramic or tin is fine. (You can also leave out the streusel; it goes on top of the top pie pastry so the pie is sealed anyway)
Golden Bran Buttermilk Muffins
Fabulous!!! What I love about these is the rough-hewn, rustic, high caps, that crowns a moist, flavor-packed, healthy muffin that is just sweet enough, moist and staying. You feel noble when you have one of these and it carries you a few hours without an attack of the nibbles. Depending on the bran you use, and how long you let this batter stand, you might need a bit more flour. These have that Starbucks look to them but taste like yesteryear. I've been making these muffins all summer; I can barely keep up with the demand.
Maple Cured Teriyaki Salmon
How about a little Northern Exposure this Canada day? Broil or grilled, this makes an outstanding, light entree of fish. The maple brings out the subtle salmon taste and helps it caramelize on the edges just so. Serve with asparagus and wild rice. Maple, soya and sesame collide in a West meets East with Norther Exposure accent
The flavor of a maple kissed spring rocks in this cream cheese laced fawn-colored maple muffin. This is a sweet, tender, moist muffin that is so because of the combination of pure but delectable ingredients. Don't even think about using anything but pure maple syrup!
Little buried treasures; fruity goodness in a cookie bite.
Iced Peach Green Tea
I love Starbucks and all those outdoor cafes that sell wonderful bottled gourmet ice-teas. But I love having those gourmet teas at home too, and fresh on tap. Brew up a batch and ladle it into big Mason jars (or a pitcher).
Classic Caramel Impossible Pie
This brown sugar and coconut wonder is a throwback to the days when Impossible pies heralded the arrival of Bisquick © which is a flour, baking powder, salt and shortening mix that made for quick biscuits, cakes and pancakes. Some of the most famous of this genre of pies were Impossible Coconut Pie and Impossible Bacon Pie which was the quickest quiche imaginable – the eggs and bacon filling, mysteriously separating as the pie baked into a brunch cassrole/quiche that deserves its fame. Impossible referred to the quick and easy method (usually all ingredients were dumped in a blender and whizzed up in seconds), as well as the novelty of pies that went into a pan as a batter and bake into a pie filling/pie sort of dessert. This recipe is also good if you pour the Impossible filling into a pre-baked pie shell. Serve with crème anglaise, fresh churned vanilla ice-cream or a dab of whipped cream and some fresh summer berries. Vintage pie with contemporary great taste. It is not quite pie, not quite a chewy square but sort of a tender, buttery little cake that defies description. I guess it deserves to be called....Impossible.
A rich red velvet or devil’s food cake, with the added tang of sour cream and the richness of pure cocoa. It also features a luscious white cream cheese frosting. This recipe calls for shortening and butter for a very light crumb but use all butter if you prefer for best flavour and if you are not a shortening (even the new healthier shortening) fan. Like most of my cupcake recipes, there is an extra trick that makes these unique and mouth-watering. If you are bakery-challenged, just dump all the batter ingredients in a food processor and it into submission. Forget the simple syrup and buy white icing and slather it on. These are still outstanding. They are dedicated to a Red Velvet Cupcake Fan (addict), singer extraordinaire Dwayne Britton (see www.DwayneBritton.com or check out his cd on Itunes)
There are various ways of preparing this new classic (new meaning the last 40 years or so; it debuted in the 70’s). Essentially it is spaghetti or linguine tossed with fresh, springy vegetables such a peas, broccoli, asparagus in a light cream sauce that includes Parmesan, pine nuts and is all topped with basil. Chefs are tirelessly revamping it their way. This is my version – it is fresh, flavorful and not weighed down with the original mushrooms (which I love but to me are heartier versus springy fare). The only ‘difficult’ part of this dish is the vegetable preparation. And just make sure you choose a great imported Italian pasta as the foundation. A glass of wine, Italian bread, and some crème caramel for dessert or biscotti, and you are all set. Some chefs blanch the vegetables for this in a water broth that also contains a rind of Parmesan cheese for extra flavor. Another added touch with be a shaving of truffles, finely minced garlic croutons and some dots of chevre, or goat’s cheese.
I don’t know about you but sometimes nothing tastes better than something juvenile and snacky. Nothing beats an all-beef, kosher hotdog, your own cornmeal batter, and a stick to serve it on.
Front Deck Lemonade
The trick to real lemonade is using real ingredients and then some extra lemony boosts for a true lemonade with true kick to it. Once you have this, the rest of the stuff tastes like the chemicals it (most often) is.