Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Henry Bear Bread

For Henry who is celebrating his First Birthday today!

In 1988 this was called Teddy Bear Bread and made at Christmas time by Alexandra, then nine, and Christopher, almost six, for themselves and for a few special friends. Since Henry loves bread and is used to only the best, this recipe may need some tweaking. I look forward to making the Henry Bear version, most likely using a whole wheat dough, with Henry during a future visit :-)

Meanwhile the original Teddy Bear Bread recipe:
(Makes two bears)

Over medium heat, heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan:

1/2 c milk

Then stir in:

3 T sugar
2 t salt
3 T butter

Cool to lukewarm.


1 envelope active dry yeast in 1 1/2 c lukewarm water
(Check to be sure the water temperature is within the range given on the yeast package - too hot and the yeasties die, too cold and the bread won't rise).

Pour into a large mixing bowl.

Add the milk mixture and

3 c flour.

Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Then stir in

3 1/2 to 4 c more flour, or enough to make a stiff dough.

Knead the dough on a floured board for 8-10 minutes. Then place the dough in bowl greased with butter. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise for one hour. Punch down.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Set two pieces aside, these will form the bodies of the bears. Divide the third piece in half, these will form their heads. Shape the fourth piece into a long roll and cut into fourteen pieces, these will form the 8 paws, 4 ears and 2 noses of the two bears. Shape all of the pieces of dough into balls. Place the large balls on buttered baking sheets.  Place the medium balls above the large balls for the bear heads. Flatten these four balls slightly. Attach balls for paws, noses and ears.

Cover with a dishtowel and let rise for about one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Make indentations for eyes, noses and belly buttons with the end of toothpick or a small skewer. Place raisins in these indentations.  Use a small spoon to make indentations in the ears.

Make an egg glaze by lightly beating:

1 egg
1 T cold water

Brush the egg glaze on the bears.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on racks.

Tie red yarn or ribbion in a bow around each bear's neck :-)

Happy Birthday Henry!

Reviewed 5/7/17

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fresh Pea Soup with Coconut and Basil

How did this happen, in the middle of winter, I decide to make Fresh Pea Soup? And, after a recent dinner of Green Curry left me with an ample supply of Thai basil and kaffir lime leaves, I decided to give this soup a coconut base and add some of the Thai goodies. I really liked the result, Ed voted for the less complex Fresh Pea. This soup would also be good cold...  But now as the snow is approaching two feet and still falling, I have decided it's time to make a big pot of old fashion Pea Soup.  Will definately return to this recipe come warm weather!

Sautee in a large pot until onion is translucent:

1 T olive oil, heat first
1/2 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 T ginger, peeled and chopped

Add and bring to a boil:

3 c water
14 oz (1 can) coconut milk (I use reduced fat)
1 c chopped Thai basil, coarsley chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves (optional)

Add to boiling mixture

24 oz (2 bags) frozen shelled peas
2 T lime juice

Return to a boil and then trun off heat immediately.  Let sit a few minutes and then puree using an immersion blender (my choice) or a food processor.

Garnish with thinly sliced Thai basil and

Hot pepper, finely chopped (to taste, optional).

Reviewed 7/9/2017

Good Day for Soup!

Kale Soup
Mushroom Barley Soup
Pea Soup
Onion Cider Soup
Corn and Green Chili Chowder

Reviewed 7/9/2017

Sunday, January 11, 2015


We had a full house this past Christmas, and Chris, assumed the role of pastry chef,a much appreciated treat for me. In addition to making Cranberry Linzertorte and Perfect Apple Pie (recipe follows soon, I hope) for Christmas Eve, he brought us many loaves of fresh French bread from his bread machine and box after box of cookies. The cookies included a couple of batches of Chris's Brownies, Awesome Oatmeal Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies and Rugelach. Traditional rugelach are formed by rolling crescent dough around a filling, this sliced roll alternative is adapted by Chris from Smitten Kitchen.

Since Chris tells me to write about my failures so others won't make the same mistake, I'm sure he would want me to note that his first batch of rugelach was a disaster (his call not mine, I did not see or taste a cookie).  On first read, the recipe sounded like cookie dough rather than pastry dough, he explained.  The result was a tough crust.  For the next batch he used cold butter and cold cream cheese and found the dough much more satisfactory.   Everyone really enjoyed this second (and third) batch!

Make the Dough

Using a food processor with steel blade, blend until light and fluffy:

8 ounces  cold (straight out of refrigerator!) cream cheese
1 c (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Add and beat until combined:

1/4 c granulated sugar

Scrape sides and bottom of bowl well to consolidate ingredients, then add and mix just until just combined:

2 c sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 t coarse salt

Divide dough equally into two pieces, form into balls, flatten into thick rectangles,  wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  If you have two paper towel rolls, slit them in the long direction and save for later.

Make the Filling

Toss together in a medium sized bowl:

1/4 c plus 2 T sugar
1/4 c light-brown sugar, packed
1/2 t ground cinnamon
3/4 c raisins, finely chopped
1c toasted (optional), then finely chopped walnuts

Assemble the Rolls

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the dough. Rectangle should be about 12" wide by 1/8" thick.

Spread evenly over the dough:

~1/4 c raspberry preserves, heated and slightly cooled

and sprinkle with half the filling mixture. Beginning with one of the long sides, roll the dough into a tight log. Wrap in plastic wrap. Place the wrapped roll in the previous prepared paper towel roll (optional)   and give it a little roll to firm the shape of the pastry roll.

Place the completed roll on a baking sheet and repeat the process using an additional

~1/4 c raspberry preserves, heated and cooled slightly

Place the second pastry roll on the baking sheet along side the first, place baking sheet in the refrigerator and let chill for one hour or longer.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the Topping

Mix together:

1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon

Slice the chilled pastry rolls in discs about 1/4" thick. Using your fingers, dip each disc in the topping mixture then shake off any excess topping. At this phase if you didn't roll and cut them perfectly, there's a bit of squishing them together.  Place cookies about an inch apart on the prepared sheets

Bake 15 - 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the cookies from the oven and  using a fork or fingers (careful, don't burn!) tuck in any ends of dough that might have pulled away.  Let the cookes rest on the baking sheet for two minutes to set. Meanwhile spray or wipe a cooling rack with olive or canola oil.  This will help keep the preserves from sticking. Transfer cookies to rack(s) and let cool completely.

Once cool, cookies can be stored in an airtight container.  If making more than one level of cookies, separate each level with a layer of wax paper.


Instead of raisins use another dried fruit of your choice, finely chopped.

Instead of walnuts, use another nut of your choice, finely chopped.

Instead of raspberry preserves, use apricot preserves or use raspberry preserves on one roll and apricot  preserves on the other.

All photos this post:
© 2014 Christopher Kern

Reviewed 5/14/17

Spaghetti-Spinach-Cashew Cream Bake

Usually I would post this recipe as a "Variation" to Spaghetti-Ricotta Bake, but since that recipe was posted 7 years ago, I decided to give this a separate post.

The last time Chris came to dinner, at my request for ideas, he suggested Spaghetti-Ricotta Bake. Thinking of all the cholesterol Ed had consumed lately, I asked Chris how he felt about a cashew cream filling instead of ricotta. He said sure, and I substituted Vegan Cream Sauce for the ricotta. All three of us liked the results but agreed it was hard to choose the "cashew" version over the ricotta version and visa versa; they are both good in their own way. While the ricotta version has 183 mg of cholesterol (whole recipe), the cashew cream has no cholesterol and about half the saturated fat.  However, the ricotta verson has about half the calories as the cashew cream version.  Calories, of course, could be reduced by using less of the cashew cream.

Make the Filling 

Make 1 recipe Vegan Cream Sauce
When chopping the cashews, chop a few tabelspoons extra and set aside.

Sautee, until spinach is just barely wilted:

1 T olive oil
4 c (5 oz) fresh baby spinach

Cook Spaghetti and Assemble the Dish


1 pound linguine or spaghetti (I use whole wheat)

until just barely al dente (see package for time and cook about one minute less than minimum).

While pasta is cooking, combine in a large bowl:

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 T olive oil
1 T Italian herbs

When pasta is cooked, drain well and toss with oil and garlic mixture. Lightly brush the bottom of a 9” x 9” (or equivalent area) baking dish with olive oil .  Put about 2/3 of the seasoned pasta in the baking dish and level the pasta. Spread:

1 recipe (or less) of Vegan Cream Sauce over the spaghetti, sprinkle with

Ground nutmeg

then top with

spinach mixture

(A package of frozen chopped spinach may be used instead.  When using frozen spinach, thaw completely and  remove as much moisture as possible; a good way to do this is to actually wring the spinach in your (clean) hand.)

Spread remaining pasta mix evenly over the ricotta/spinach.

For a vegan dish, spray the top of the pasta with a light coating of olive oil and then sprinkle the reserved chopped cashews evenly over the surface.

If vegan or zero cholesterol is not a goal, an alternative is to top with

Parmesan cheese, grated  (photo left)

and the reserved chopped cashews (optional - photo at top)

Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for approximately 30 minutes or until top is browned and crispy.

Reviewed 5/30/2017