Monday, November 19, 2012

Pear-Ginger Crisp/Apple Crisp

Chris came to dinner last night. From my suggestions, he chose Spaghetti-Ricotta Bake. This called for a fruit dessert, not a cake/pastry thing.  Cranberry-Apple Crisp would be perfect, but I had served it so much recently.  At the farm stand, I found some of the last of the local pears and tried this....

Mixing the cinnamon with the sugar before adding to the fruit helps spread the cinnamon more evenly.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix together:

4 pears (~2 pounds), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 t ground cinnamon mixed with
1 T sugar
1 T crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 T lemon juice

Place in an 8-inch diameter tart/pie baking dish.

In the same bowl used to mix the fruit (do not wash) combine:

1 T butter, melted
1 T maple syrup
1 T brown sugar
1/3 c walnuts, broken in small pieces

Mix well and then add:

1/2 c rolled oats
2 T flour

Mix until all of the oats are well coated with the "sticky ingredients", then pour topping over the fruit and distribute evenly.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 40 minutes.

Good served with Stonyfield vanilla non-fat frozen yogurt.

The three of us who tried this agreed, we like this topping better than the topping I have been using on the Cranberry-Apple Crisp.


Use 4 unpeeled apples (~2 pounds), thinly sliced, instead of pears.

Increase ground cinnamon to 1/2 t and omit the crystallized ginger.

October 2013 Apples from Moogie's Tree Crisp: Ed and I were in Carbondale (CO) in October and found lots of apples from my Mom's tree awaiting us. Since a bear cub had been recently sighted in the front yard near the tree, we carefully gathered the apples every day,  I made many crisps out of these apples, including a home grown apple Birthday Crisp for my Mom with some apples we brought back to NH.

Reviewed 5/17/17

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Moosilauke Whole Wheat Batter Bread

Ed and I spent a wonderful (though very cold) night at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge recently. The food as always was yummy but for me the highlights were the Whole Wheat Batter Bread at dinner and the Sticky Buns* at breakfast.  John, one of the crew members, gave me the recipe for the bread, adapted from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads.  After reading the recipe, I asked John what gave the bread the wonderful topping. He said he had topped the hot bread with some micro-waved honey and a handful of oats.

Because this bread is so easy to make, and because bread for sandwiches is often hard to find when cruising,  I'm eager to try this recipe (without honey topping) on the boat next summer!

NOTE:  This recipe makes 2 medium loaves of bread.

Grease (I used butter) 2 medium 8" x 4" bread pans.

In a large mixing bowl combine:

6 c whole wheat flour [Dip and sweep if you measure. I weigh and use ~ 30.6 ounces King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour]
1/4 c sugar
1 t salt
2 packages [4 1/2 t] dry yeast [or 3 t instant dry yeast]

Mix well. Gradually pour in

3 1/2 c warm (120 - 130 degrees F) water

Mix, about 50 strokes, to blend.

Divide the batter between the two greased bread pans.

Cover each pan with waxed paper [buttered on the side that touches the bread] and let sit 30 minutes.

Preheat oven [not convection mode though Mr. Clayton advises "if using a convection oven, reduce heat 40 degrees for each bake period"] to 400 degrees F. Put a small pan on the bottom shelf.

After the bread has risen for 30 minutes, place pans on middle rack in the 400 degrees F oven. When putting bread in the oven put 8-12 ice cubes in the small pre-heated pan. Cook for 15 minutes then
REDUCE HEAT to 350 degrees F and cook for an additional 45 minutes. Remove bread from oven.

Let cool a few minutes then remove bread from the pan and place on wire rack to cool.  If the Moosilauke honey-oatmeal topping is desired, warm in microwave

3 T honey

Using a pastry brush, spread over the top of the loaves, then sprinkle top of loaf with

2 - 3 T oatmeal

© 2012 Edward C Kern, Jr.
And what did we do to work off all this delicious food?  A morning hike up Mount Moosilauke. While the low forty degree F temperatures, brisk wind and clouds shrouding the top of the mountain gave us pause, our decision to hike was well rewarded. The hike up Gorge Brook Trail was sheltered from the wind and as we approached the summit, the clouds lifted and the sun came out briefly, illuminating small spruce and grasses covered with snow.  Indeed a magical moment!

© 2012 Edward C Kern, Jr.
If you nail this recipe, and hopefully you will,  cool :-) If you wish you'd done better, for a wandering discussion on how I finally made a loaf comparable to Moosilauke's see Notes on Bread-making.

* The recipe for the Sticky Buns (in progress, photo at left), for now at least, did not make the Cook's Cache cut - too much butter and much more complicated than this bread to prepare.  The recipe, adapted from the King Arthur Cookbook, can be found in the Famous for Fine Food and Favorite Recipes from Moosilauke Ravine Lodge.

Reviewed 5/8/17

Notes on Breadmaking

The first loaf of Moosilauke Whole Wheat Batter Bread I made was a disappointment (photo left, bottom left loaf).  Tasty, but much denser than the bread we were served at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. So off to the library for bread books: The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and the original source of this recipe, Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads.  If you are really interested in bread making  check out one or both of these books; don't rely on the wandering novice notes below.
NOTE: Quantities below are for one loaf or half the recipe.


When I first made this bread, I sensed the dough was a bit stiff,  my first instinct was to add more water, but since this was the first time I had made this bread I decided to follow the recipe exactly. "Three cups of flour" turns out not to be so exact. In Cool Tools I wrote about the benefits of weighing flour.  In The Bread Bible, Ms Beranbaum provides detailed measurement conversions for flour. Her chart notes:

1 cup whole wheat flour (dip and sweep) weighs 5 ounces
1 cup whole wheat flour, finely milled, (lightly spooned) weighs 5ounces
1 cup whole wheat flour, finely milled, (dip and sweep) weighs 5.3 ounces (1)

For her recipes, Ms Beranbaum defines flour volume as "measured by dipping cup used for measuring solids into the flour bin and sweeping off the excess with a metal spatula or knife" (2)

Mr. Clayton writes, "The amount of flour given is only approximate because flour varies greatly in its ability to absorb moisture due from differences from harvest to harvest, sack to sack, as well as month to month as the humidity changes and the flour absorbs or releases moisture.... In the latter stages of mixing dough, add flour sparingly.  It is better to slowly add the last bit of flour to be certain the texture of the dough is just right rather than to overwhelm the dough with flour.  If you do go beyond the point where the dough is soft and elastic, it becomes hard, add water.  The dough will accept it though reluctantly." (3)

For this first loaf (top photo, bottom left loaf), I used the dip and sweep method (which one of the crew members told me Moosilauke uses) or 15.9 ounces of 365 Organic Whole Wheat Flour. The bread was denser and had much less volume than the bread I remembered from Moosilauke.  I tried a few other loaves using less flour (one shown in top photo, top left loaf); the bread was lighter but the top concave.

Finally I got some King Arthur whole wheat flour, the flour the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge purportedly uses, and started again.  I used the dip and sweep method  and found the flour weighed 15.3 ounces. Since King Arthur lists the flour as weighing 34 grams per one-quarter cup or 14.4 ounces/3 cups, I then removed enough flour so the remaining flour weighed 14.4 ounces (photo second from top).  I added water to the lesser amount of flour (mixed with sugar, salt and yeast).  The dough seemed much too sticky so I continued to add flour until I had used all 15.3 ounces.   Writing about "too-soft dough" Mr. Clayton states "The combination of flour and kneading will give the dough sufficient body to stand alone on the baking sheet. Test it by slapping your open hand against the ball of dough. Leave it there for the count of ten.  If your hand comes away clean you have enough flour." (4)  Since this is a batter in a pan bread, not a kneaded stand-alone loaf, I used a batter that still had a bit of stickiness to it - small pieces would attach to my hand but the batter was not overly sticky.

Note photos of the bread after it has risen. Higher ratio of water ( photo top left) resulted in small bubbles (and concave top after cooking), while less water (photo middle left - first "successful loaf") resulted in a smoother finish (and convex top after cooking). The first loaf (photos below) which also had fewer bubbles did not rise as much/double in size. Turns out I was probably pretty close to the right flour:water ratio the first try.  Maybe the room was too cold for the bread to rise properly, maybe the convection oven.... the loaf (lower right photo) was dense and low volume, but it had a convex top.


Active dry and instant dry yeast are the two best yeast options for breads on this blog to date. In On Food And Cooking, Harold McGee differentiates between these two forms:

"Active dry yeast, which was introduced in the 1920s, has been removed from the fermentation tank and dried into granules with a protective coating of yeast debris.  The yeast cells are dormant and can be stored at room temperature for months.  The cook reactivates them by soaking them in warm water 105 - 110 degrees F/41 - 43 degrees C ["proofing"] before mixing the dough. At cooler soaking temperatures, the yeast cells recover poorly and release substances that interfere with the gluten formation (glutathione)" [At higher temperature the yeasties die].

"Instant dry yeast, an innovation of the 1970s, is dried more quickly than active dry yeast, and in the form of small porous rods that take up water more rapidly than granules. Instant yeast doesn't need to be prehydrated before mixing with other dough ingredients, and produces carbon dioxide more vigorously than active dry yeast." (5)

Making this bread I used Fleishmann's Active Dry Yeast.  Per the recipe, I did not proof the yeast but added it to the dry ingredients as I do in making  No-Knead Bread.  But in No-Knead bread I use Rapid Rise/(instant) yeast which does not call for proofing. Both Ms Beranbaum in The Bread Bible, and Mr. Clayton in Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads state their preference, except when a sour flavor is desired, for instant/quick rising yeast.  Ms Beranbaum does add "Active dry yeast, with its higher amount of dead yeast cells, is favored by pizza dough makers because the dead yeast cells contain glutathoine, which relaxes the gluten bonds, adding further extensibility - making it easier to stretch out the dough.  Dead yeast cells add a desirable flavor as well." (6)

In his book, republished in 1987, Mr Clayton writes "Because the new fast-rising yeast cannot be found everywhere in the United states, recipes in this book [including the Whole Wheat Batter Bread] have been developed for the conventional dry yeast with the liquid between 120 and 130 degrees [when mixing dry active yeast to proof, the liquid should be 105 - 110 degrees F]. In almost all of the recipes the yeast is mixed with the flour before the liquid is added.... if the bread is prepared with a new fast-rising yeast and at the recommended higher temperatures, the rising time should be reduced by half." (7)

Unlike Mr. Clayton who holds the quantity of yeast constant and reduces rising time, Ms. Beranbaum states "sometimes you will see it [instant yeast] called 'rapid-rise.' I see this as a misnomer, because used in correct portion, it does not speed the fermentation of the dough (which would be undesirable for full flavor development).  Because of the manufacturing process, there are fewer dead yeast cells in instant yeasts than in active dry yeast.  This special process also enables the yeast to 'wake up' more quickly and makes it possible to use less yeast." (8) The No-Knead Bread which has an incredibly long (18 -24 hour) rising period offers an option of more yeast, less  time.  Since the Whole Wheat Batter Bread only requires 30 minutes of rising time it makes more sense to reduce the amount of yeast (.67 times the weight of active dry yeast).


After making several loaves of this bread, I found the texture improved but I could not produce a loaf with a convex top.  When I cooked the bread, the loaf collapsed resulting in a concave top.  Back to the books. Ms. Beranbaum writes, "Volume is determined by oven spring, which takes place during the first third of the baking cycle, when the rate of fermentation rapidly increases, until the heat kills the yeast.... The goal is to delay the formation of the crust until the gases have accomplished their work so the dough can expand to its full capacity. One way to achieve this is by steaming the oven." She also advises not to use a convection oven, at least for the beginning cycle of baking as it will blow out the moisture." (9) Whoops. I had been using a convection oven and not introducing any steam.  I switched to my regular oven, and using one on Ms. Beranbaum's suggested methods added ~6 ice cubes to a preheated pan when I placed the bread in the oven.  Still a convex top with the higher water content, but using the dip and sweep (15.3 ounces of flour per loaf) I finally got results that were comparable with the Moosilauke bread (top photo, right loaf)!  In retrospect the "steaming" may be unnecessary - stay tuned.

1  The Bread Bible, page 570
2  The Bread Bible, page 42 - Note, it is important to know method for dry measure when converting to weight!
3  New Complete Book of Breads , page 30
4  New Complete Book of Breads, page 709
5  The Bread Bible, page 532 - 533
6  The Bread Bible, page 561 - 562
7  The Bread Bible,  page 33
8  The Bread Bible,  page 561
9  The Bread Bible, page 84 -85

Reviewed 5/8/17

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pomegranate Seeds

I never thought I would quote Martha Stewart. However, I was doing errands Saturday and listening to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! Ms. Stewart was a guest and, as part of her introductory banter, she discussed how to de-seed a pomegranate. Since pomegranate seeds are one of my fall favorites, and since I already had 2 among the groceries in my car, I paid attention.

Cut a small sliver off the top of the pomegranate. Score the skin, first in half and then in quarters; don't cut deep enough to cut the seeds.  Then break the pomegranate into quarters. Hold a pomegranate quarter, seed side down, over a bowl (I put the bowl in the sink to help contain the pomegranate juice which stains anything it touches) and tap vigorously on the skin with a wooden spoon.  While Ms. Stewart removes all the seeds in this manner, I helped some of them along with my fingers.  This method is very quick and does not damage the seeds. Store the seeds in a covered dish in the refrigerator.

Though we had beautiful pomegranate trees (top photo) outside our room at Las Chimeneas, I do not recall being served any. Must have been our timing. Pomegranates are found in traditional Moorish recipes as well as in Samuel and Samantha Clark's Moro cookbooks both of which inspired the cuisine of Las Chimeneas.  On my list of "to trys" is a Moro recipe for Bulgar, Celery and Pomegranate Salad. Meanwhile, I use the pomegranate seeds on Bitter Greens with Maple Mustard Dressing or with a little bit of aged balsamic vinegar on top of mixed greens.

Another favorite. Pomegranate seeds along with orange fused olive oil and  fresh rosemary make an elegant topping for topping for non-fat chocolate frozen yogurt/chocolate ice cream.

Reviewed 9/14/2017

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beet Greens

Beet greens go back to my childhood. simply steamed and topped with vinegar and sometimes butter. Traditionally they are a spring crop, the by-product of thinning the beet field.  However, I have recently found beet greens along with pea tendrils available locally in the fall as well; a crop in themselves.

I got a huge bag of beet greens last week and decided to try cooking half (~ 7 ounces) as I frequently cook spinach. In a small wok sautee:

2 t olive oil (heat first)
2 cloves garlic, minced

until the garlic is lightly browned, then add

7-8 ounces beet greens, still damp from washing.

Sautee, stirring constantly until the greens are wilted.

The greens were tasty but I still think I like them steamed until they are wilted and then tossed with vinegar (I use my homemade tarragon vinegar) to taste.

I recently served the steamed version and Pork with Plums, and found this to be a particularly good pairing. Also good with  Lamb Shank with Wine Jus, Gremolata and White Bean Puree

Reviewed 8/23/2017

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cranberry-Orange Oatmeal Cookies

We hosted a neighborhood open house this weekend and my invite read "seasonal beverages and munchies".  But what seasonal munchies to serve?  Hummus would go well with fall carrots, radishes, broccoli  and all of the various colors of cauliflower now in the farm markets; Pumpkin Pie Muffins (mini) and Fiery Pumpkin Seeds also made the list. But cookies.... Browsing through Sarah Leah Chase's Cold-Weather Cooking  I found an interesting recipe for Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookies (page 111) but was put off by the amount of butter (1 1/2 cups/3 sticks to make 24 cookies). Taking the idea, I decided to modify my old standby recipe for Oatmeal Cookies and was pleased with the result.  While normally I would just add a "variation" to the original recipe, I decided this is such a great option for a more healthy holiday cookie, I would give it its own post. If you want a truly awesome (holiday splurge) cookie, go for the Awesome Oatmeal Cookies with the cranberry (rather than raisin) option.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat together until creamy (I use food processor fitted with steel blade):

¾ c canola oil (or 1/2 c olive oil + 1/4 c orange juice)
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
½ c granulated sugar
1 egg (I usually use 1/4 c "egg product")
¼ c orange juice
Zest of one orange (optional)
1 t vanilla

Then add:

3 c oats, uncooked (traditional, not quick-cook)
1 c flour
½ t soda

Pulse mixer just to blend oats with other ingredients; don't pulverize the oats! Mix in by hand not with food processor:

2 c (8oz) cranberries, coarsley chopped
1/3 c nuts (I use walnuts/pecans), coarsley chopped

Drop by rounded teaspoon onto greased or non-stick cookie sheet. Bake ~15 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

Reviewed 5/14/17